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Tear it up!

Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.” Luke 3.14

Question Time on the BBC last night devoted a significant amount of time - not to mention hot air - to the issue of fracking. And this morning came reports from Brazil that the destruction of the Amazon rainforest continues to accelerate. How are these - fracking and rainforest destruction - connected? Both are in order to meet our insatiable demand for energy in order to grow our economies, so we can have more of what we want, in greater abundance and sooner.

No one would deny that millions of people across the world deserve a better deal, just as thousands of British citizens require "levelling up" in order to enjoy a fairer share of the nation's wealth. But few seem to question whether economic growth is the only way, especially as economic growth flies in the face of the climate emergency. Oh, but what about the NHS and affordable housing? Must we not have economic growth to fund these? Economic growth may be one solution but, if it comes at the price of the ecosystem we all depend on, that is neither affordable nor viable - in the long run.

So why do we not hear more about the alternative: for the wealthy to tread lighter and share more with those in need? Or for the pressures on the NHS to be alleviated by more of us taking greater responsibility for our health? Is not a significant part of the problem to do, on the one hand, with entitlement - that we should expect to get what we want - and, on the other hand, with - dependency - that our basic needs should be provided and, when they are not, it is someone else's fault?

When John the Baptist announced the arrival of God's Messiah, people wanted to know what they must do personally to prepare to meet their Saviour and Judge. John's response was deceptively modest: be content with what you already have and don't let your appetite for more lead to the exploitation of others. That sounds so reasonable that it is almost disappointing! Yet it challenges our basic instinct for more, which most of us find impossible to resist.

Where to start? Tear up the bucket list. We spend so much time dreaming about all the wonderful things we would like to do and all the fascinating places we would like to visit that we overlook the blessings on our doorstep. The danger is, of course, that, in so doing, we might also find ourselves confronted by needy neighbours and unfinished business. But if we finally got around to addressing such, might we not end up more productively engaged and with lighter tread than frittering away our lives in fantasies of destructive self-indulgence?



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