Radio Leicester Thought for the Day

© John Denney, 5 March 2002


Bad things have been happening locally recently.  Outbreaks of vandalism, for instance in Mountsorrel and South Wigston.  There was an appalling robbery at a store in Wymeswold by vicious and heedless hoodlums who nearly succeeded in burning the store down with the helpless owner inside it.  How can people do these things?

We live in a “me” culture, where society tells us our primary consideration is to look after our own interests. The advertising thrust daily at us teaches us gratification is ours from the products we buy; we can buy recklessly and then pay off our debts over 20 years at virtually nothing each month; that our health can be maintained or improved by taking this packaged exercise programme or following that diet.  If we buy the clothes and sportswear modelled by Posh and Becks, then somehow we take on the glamour of their fame and fortune.  Or at least that’s what Big Business wants us to feel.

The concentration on “me first” leads us to forget our responsibility to others.  Concepts of duty and loyalty, care and concern, come a poor second.  But Jesus Christ told the famous story of the Good Samaritan, emphasising our common humanity, and He made it clear we have a duty to love our neighbour as much as we love ourselves.

The vandal cares nothing for the consequences of his actions.  The robber is unmindful of the devastation he wreaks on his terrified victim.  He is a “me” person, not a “we” person.  But what about our responsibilities?  Do we care about the inhumanity of our prison system that crams 70,000 prisoners into the accommodation for 45,000?  Do we care about the exploitation of poor workers in poor countries, denied a fair and living wage by the companies that sell us our tea and coffee and chocolate and diamonds?  Do we care about the treatment of the Al-Qaida prisoners held in Camp X under austere conditions?  Do we care about the fate of those who dare to oppose President Mugabe of Zimbabwe?

Pastor Martin Niemöller was imprisoned because he opposed Hitler and the Nazis.  He wrote this:

First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.  Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.  Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.  Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.


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