Colonialism, war and selective memory

Photo: Slaves Waiting to be sold in Richmond, Virginia, painted in 1861 from an 1853 sketch. Wikipedia.

The world has changed enormously in my lifetime.

One thing that I never knew as a child but which seems to characterise the present age, is international terrorism. Terrorism, via car bomb, motor vehicle driven into crowds, gun or knife seems to be almost a daily event somewhere in the world.

The attacks are rightly condemned. Sometimes they target police or military, or some other target against whom the terrorists have a particular grievance. But so often the victims are random, ordinary citizens who may not even support the government actions the terrorists may be protesting. And the fact that too often these are “innocent victims” makes the condemnation stronger and more powerful.

As a christian who takes Jesus’ teachings seriously, I have difficulty justifying any killing of fellow human beings. But I fear we have selective memory about terrorism and innocent victims.

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Walking wounded

Walking Wounded

I must admit it jolted me a little.

I was walking slowly through a local shopping centre when I was confronted with the sign shown above. 46 Australian soldiers have been killed on active duty in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, since 1999. But more than 5 times that number of returned soldiers have committed suicide in the same period.

What was I going to make of that?

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Are you an extremist?

Man carrying political sign

The dictionary defines an extremist as “a person who holds extreme political or religious views, especially one who advocates illegal, violent, or other extreme action.”

Search for photos tagged as “extremist” (as I did for this post) and the majority of the photos are of Americans protesting against their government, especially their President. The one I used is one of the milder and least extreme!

But ask Americans what actions they think are “extremist” and you’ll get some interesting, and perhaps surprising, answers.

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What you sow, you will reap – or perhaps someone else will?

MennoNerds SynchroBlog on Refugees

Refugees

There have always been refugees – people fleeing from oppression and death that they cannot fight. And there has always been oppression and killing, as greed or fear or power lust drive people to destroy, enslave or oppress those who belong to another tribe, another belief or another power grouping.

But the last few decades have seen enormous numbers of refugees, perhaps because communications and transport are so much more readily available these days. And so we arrive at the present Middle East refugee crisis, which we are all only too aware of because of the wonders of TV and the internet.

Fellow MennoNerds have been blogging on this refugee crisis for the month of September, and there is little I can say to add to what others have said about the horrors and the desperate needs.

But it may be time, at the end of the month, to look behind the scenes and see if there are any lessons we can learn.1

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State of the earth, 2015

Earth

I used to work as an engineering hydrologist, and an environmental manager. Multi-syllable words, but they meant I spent a lot of time collecting, analysing and using climate data, mostly rainfall and streamflow. And so I also did some reading on the then fledgling science of climate change.

I am also a christian, so I believe God wants us to care for his world, the people, yes, but also the animals and the earth itself.

So here’s a report on the state of the climate in the only world we have.

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Christmas, christians and a deep sense of foreboding

Flowers in Martin Place

This last week has been a disturbing one for many Australians. A hostage siege in Sydney, that left two hostages and the gunman dead, made a deep impression.

Of course other countries have experienced far worse senseless killing and atrocities. This week has also seen the shooting of about 140 people, mostly school children, in Pakistan and further killings by Boko Haram in Nigeria, as well as ongoing killing in the Middle East and North Africa.

But I want to think for a moment about how people, especially christians, react to such events when they touch us personally.

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