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Monday, 13 August 2007

Living in an emergency

The 'state of emergency" that has framed Federal government responses to the threat of terrorism now finds an echo in the urgency of response to the "national emergency" of child abuse in indignous communities.

I was alerted to the parallels between the government responses to terrorism and the intervention in the Northern Territory by the reference to the work of Jerome Binde in the following quote from Scott Bader-Saye's thoughtful account of "Following Jesus in a Culture of Fear."

"Jerome Binde makes the case that our current fearfulness tempts us to live perpetually in what he calls "Emergency Time". He describes it this way. "by giving precedence to the logic of 'just in time' at the expense of any forward looking deliberation, within the contex of ever faster technological transformaton and exchange, our era is opening the way for the tyranny of the emergency. Emergency is a direct means of response that leaves no time for either analysis, forecasting or prevention. It is an immediate protective reflex rather than a sober quest for long-term solutions." (p.129)

To let ourselves accept the state of emergency as a mode of living is to live in fear and impatience. It is also to abandon reason and reflection and to not allow ourselves time for conversation to meet and listen to one another across our differences.

The community of those who seek to follow Jesus need to look at developing forms of life that the development of the virtue of patience and a recovery of the freedom that comes from living out of a conviction that God is love. We need to create spaces for conversation with those who we perceive to be different.

1 comment:

Justin said...

Hey Doug, that's a really useful point about the way policymaking is happening these days. I am fascinated/disturbed at how seemingly intelligent people can think it rational to give such little attention to a 480-page piece of legislation (leaving aside for the moment the impact of the legislation on our First Peoples).

The same 'emergency' thinking pervades the Western countries' foreign policy as well - we seem to be incapable of getting out of that zone, leading to horribly compromised choices (Musharraf vs Pakistani civil society comes to mind), even though history is full of warnings about what happens when you think short-term...