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Vanity fair

"I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind." Ecclesiastes 1.14

With the US drone strike in Afghanistan, followed by the shenanigans in the South China Sea around Taiwan, on top of the war in Ukraine... the capacity of human beings to allow secondary issues to distract us from what really matters is endless. We already have a global pandemic and environmental catastrophe on our plate, which we cannot avoid, why do we pile on extra crises which do not have to happen? Not that we can put all the blame on politicians, as if the rest of us are better and wiser. The same aggressive, acquisitive instincts rear their ugly heads in the clamour for higher wages and the right to maintain indulgent lifestyles, which are further fuelling our woes within and among - as well as above and beyond - the communities we inhabit.

The teacher in Ecclesiastes conducted a bizarre experiment in self-indulgence and, less surprisingly perhaps, concluded that obsessing over one's own interests does not bring happiness. Indeed chasing happiness for its own sake is like chasing the wind: a recipe for frustration. Happiness is the by-product of doing the right thing: trusting God and serving others. We need to learn this in a personal capacity and right up to national and international levels. Easier said than done, of course.

Christians can feed on the expectation of Jesus' return to introduce God's Kingdom values in their fulness. That will sort things out! But what should we do in the meantime? Surely it is better that he finds us preparing the way, however inadequately, than shaking our heads in despair or, worse, participating in the destructive vanity which is ripe for judgment?

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