Thanks to Joseph and Sharmilla I am enjoying a few days in Kerala, on the west coast of Southern India. Up in the hills it is much cooler here – well, 28 degrees in the day and 19 at night but that is cool compared to the plains of India.
Back in tourist mode I took a boat trip on the lake in the Periyar Tiger Reserve. The wildlife sanctuary is aptly named since all the tigers are very reserved, we didn’t see any. Since there are only 47 tigers in almost 1000 km2 that was hardly surprising. Yet one of the reserve guides told me that some tourists do get very annoyed. (To be fair, he did say that it was mostly the Indian tourists.) In our consumer age we expect even the environment to be on demand.
Another example of the impact of global consumerism was evident on the boat. I was sitting behind a Muslim family where all female members were dressed in burqas. While the father was taking photos of wildlife on his iPhone he assumed that his youngest daughter was doing the same. Since I was sitting directly behind her I could see what she was really doing – taking loads of selfies using an app which superimposed a tiara of flowers across her forehead. So while her father obviously wanted her covered up she was day dreaming of being a disney princess, for the world to see. As East meets West, the West has its agents transmitting propaganda everywhere.
This on a day when the media is starting to focus on United Nations involvement in Haiti. The cholera outbreak there is killing 37 people a month. Until now the UN had disputed (but under overwhelming evidence has finally admitted) that it was their own peacekeeping forces from Nepal that introduced cholera to Haiti. While the UN accepts some blame they are refusing to accept any legal responsibility. So even when we intervene in order to do good we often mess up locals in even worse ways.
Another great book is “Liberating the gospel,” by David Smith. Here is a provocative quote from the introduction – “The vacuum left by the collapse of institutional Christianity in Europe, and just as importantly by the fading of the dreams of the enlightenment, has been filled by the rise of an economistic culture in which human desire has been released from moral and ethical restraints, unleashing upon the world a vision of human existence which is essentially nihilistic.”
Look up the big words. Basically, it is not good. But not entirely different to the world of the 1st century. Smith urges us to recapture the scandal of the crucified messiah and bring a different vision to the world instead.