I spent most of my teenage years convinced that Ecclesiastes had the truest vision of life. Vanity…nothing changes…nothing makes any difference...just accept it, let God be God and don’t expect too much. University in the 80s schooled me in the secular equivalent, literary modernism, and it all came to mind again last weekend reading an article on Leonard Woolf which brought back this quote.
Strangely enough, the hard evidence on climate change has convinced me that is not the Christian way, it's not the gospel way.
Human beings actually have made a difference to the world itself for the worst, it seems. But a difference can also be made for the better. Big things do change. Take smoking; I never imagined it would fall from favour, even in face of the health issues. But smokers are now unwelcome even in Irish pubs! Likewise, sexual discrimination and abuse: how wonderful that it is now taken seriously, the reverse of what I would have imagined happening in a post-Christian world. I’m also of the view that we really could seriously reduce extreme poverty by pursuing the Millennium Development Goals (but I acknowledge that some of my Christian economist friends aren’t with me on this). And I'm convinced that these are all good things, worth doing.
Over the twenty years since I first came to university, I’ve changed from a pessimistic fatalist about human capacity to a cagey optimist. I've gone from this U2 lyric to this speech. Wonder what changes the next twenty (dv) will bring, and will U2 be around to provide the soundtrack?!
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