April 2010: Ideas to change the world

April 2010: Ideas to change the world

Australian author Christos Tsiolkas, in his preface to a new edition of Robin Boyd’s The Australian Ugliness, said such books reminded us that, no this isn’t the best of all worlds. We can, we must, do much better.

How can we change the world?

In the film Evan Almighty, when God asks this of Evan, Evan responds, “One single act of random kindness at a time.”

Some Christian leaders think if we all actually did this — randomly gave some money, donated some time — it would change the world. Others are more strategic.

Tony Campolo and Gordon Aeschliman offer ideas from the simplest acts of kindness to more complex works of mercy in their book, Everybody Wants to Change the World.

They have suggestions from working with the poor to assisting the elderly; helping immigrants assimilate to supporting the sick; showing compassion to people in prison to caring for the environment.

Another who thinks we can wage a war on complacency and change the world with “revolutionary compassion” is Vince Antonucci, author of Guerrilla Lovers (BakerBooks, US$14.99). See www.guerillalovers.com.

Other advice, following Romans 12:12 (Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer), might be to keep praying until change occurs. Subscribe to weekly prayer updates from Micah Challenge International.

But don’t dawdle.

People are lonely, hungry, sick, struggling to make ends meet, bitter, depressed, imprisoned and dying.

For most people in the world’s poor communities, a dominant concern is access to clean water. Then there is malnutrition, disease control, the education of women, the risks of pollution and vulnerability to natural hazards.

Competition for water and coming to terms with aridity is also focusing Australian minds — along with economic crises, peak oil, species extinction (though not of the over-abundant human species) and rapid climate change.

“The future is not a place,” says Patrick Tucker of the World Futurist Society. “It changes every day as we add to it and subtract from it with our actions, which is why it doesn’t actually exist. It’s a phantom we continue to pursue.”

Stories in this month’s Insights tell of people who are pursuing a better future. But we can’t leave it to them.

Vince Antonucci thinks one reason Christians aren’t good guerrilla lovers is accountability: we know what is required but … well, you know. Even if, as Uniting Church President Al Macrae says, delivery of Jesus was the world-transforming idea par excellence, sometimes we aren’t sure, we don’t have the opportunity, but, mostly, we choose not to take up the challenge.

Whether by prayer, love, kindness, generosity, revolutionary risk or simple obedience, one idea that could change the world is admitting that no, this isn’t the best of all possible worlds. We can, we must, do much better.

Stephen Webb

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