On a day when the issues seem to be around which celebrity has got anorexic, or has been selected to be part of Barry Obama’s new re election team, it is quite useful to look at today’s reading, which is from Proverbs.
30 No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel, can avail against the LORD.
31 The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD.
1 A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.
2 The rich and the poor have this in common: the LORD is the maker of them all.
3The clever see danger and hide; but the simple go on, and suffer for it.
4 The reward for humility and fear of the LORD is riches and honor and life.
5 Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse; the cautious will keep far from them.
6Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray.
Let’s start backwards, and praise the Jesuits. For they put a huge amount of effort into the education of the Catholic nobility, and this led to a sense of duty and nobility that (most of the time) preserved the culture of Mitteleurope., They also evangelized indians — in fact one of my friends from High School,Andrew Umbers, joined the priesthood and was severely sick in his mid 30s from fulminant hepatitis contracted on the mission field.
The time we spend in training our children is not wasted. It is an important job, and it requires adults to do it.
Now, look at the clever seeing danger. This fits in as well. In our society, there is an expectation that the current social welfare state will be able to continue. People see being supported by the state if they are frail and old as a right (it is not: families and churches used to have to do this. Unions used to have to do this.)
This idea has not been extended to women who have children out of wedlock, social activists demanding the government fund their foundation and thus their version of the revolution. The union man of the 1900s, who campaigned for an eight-hour working day read from his lending library and voted Labour while providing for his family (it was a point of pride that they could do this without the wife being in service: in NZ at the time keeping a house required six to ten hours of fairly physical work, six days a week. The Labour saving devices of the time were servants).
We have had a social welfare system of some form in NZ since around 1890. It was redesigned in the 1970s with a few assumptions (a) that NZ would continue to prosperously sell bulk agricultural products to England (b) that people would choose to keep working if there was an alternative and (c) that the family would remain intact.
All three have been proven wrong. England joined the EU. We have 20% of the working age population on benefits. and we now have three generations of women raising children on the DPB.
The current system is unsustainable. The clever are shrinking their lifestyles and getting prepared for austerity. The foolish will, instead, listen to Labour and the Greens who will promise what no government can afford — particularly in a country that had its second biggest city flattened in a two year long pattern of earthquakes (there was a 5.2 aftershock in Christchurch last week, and almost every high rise in the city of 400 000 has now been demolished).
This all requires humility. Being discreet, Not seeing self esteem as the highest goal. For in the end, God not only gives victory, but defeat.