Monday, January 21, 2008

oecd

Does anyone else take exception to the way that whenever there are global statistics related to standard of living in our media, New Zealand seems to be always and only compared with the OECD? [The NZ Herald published a weekload of such articles/rankings earlier this month in a special series]. It might be about house ownership, or levels of debt, or standards of health care, or levels of employment, or access to education - on and on it goes.

Now the OECD is the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. Correct me if I am wrong - but is this not a collection of the wealthier countries in the world? I think so.

What I find myself doing is noting NZ's inevitably poor placement in whatever ranking is before me and responding "Woe is us".

However as a follower of Jesus I must push back at this type of thinking. The heart of God is for the entire world, the global community - not just the OECD. NZ may appear mid-to-low in endless OECD rankings - but if there were genuine global rankings available we would find ourselves way up near the top and we could only ever respond one way, again and again: "Blessed is us". We are privileged in so many ways. We have enormous wealth and health available to us by any global standard.

Here is what happens. By acknowledging that "Blessed is us" must be my starting point I find my heart is more ready to embrace the needs of those for whom "Woe is us" is really, truly the situation. Surely this is something Jesus requires of us, isn't it?

nice chatting

Paul

9 comments:

paroikos said...

if you liked that, you'll love this

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opXKmwg8VQM

'the cornerstone of a progressive education is learning through actual experience'

and that's from 1940's america :)

paroikos said...

oops, sorry, i meant to leave that on the previous post, my bad. But yes we are very rich in NZ, not least in things that are hard to measure like life style and access to the outdoors and work/life balance.

Heather said...

I *so* passionately agree with you!!!! We are *so* rich in NZ. Not quite everyone, but almost everyone. I wish more people realised that and a) enjoyed the contentment that gratitude would bring and b) felt some responsibility for sharing that joy. If you feel like you haven't got enough, I wonder if that makes you less likely to downsize and share your excess. I certainly get less generous when I forget how well-off I am and focus on what I haven't got.

Mark Maffey said...

When I consider the Beatitudes, and the Gospel of Luke (The Upside Down Kingdom)and see how Jesus challenged the pre-conceptions of his listeners, Blessed are you - not if you are rich, have material things, have servants etc...Instead the poor, the meek, are rich in the Kingdom of God,like the Apostle Paul can we say that in whatever the circumstance whether in times of plenty or times of poverty that we are blessed?

When I consider that much of the Western Church is in decline, and much of the poorer two thirds church and third world churches are rapidly growing, I wonder who is the more open,more able to see God at work in their lives. As Jesus wept over Jerusalem, I wonder if he weeps over New Zealand and it's depravity,rising violence, murder statistics, child abuse etc.. How do we work out first our own salvation with fear and trembling in the midst of a wicked and perverse generation? Here are some thoughts:
Philippians 2 vs. 12-18 – Shining Like Stars

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed not only in my presence,
But now much more in my absence continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,
Keep in the word; seek through the Spirit to gain understanding of it essence
Treat it with reverence and apply it precepts to your life, of its tenets do not be condescending
For God’s word to you is life giving, to both lead you, and give life resonance
His word is sound, reliable, trustworthy, its power and authority in our lives never ending
God’s desire is that we seek first his kingdom, to desire to be in his presence
For in drawing near to him, he will draw near to us and bring change and spirit enabling.

For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose
Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure,
For we are called to be salt and light, to be beacons of truth and not from it repose
For as we serve and do so as to our God, of the upward call to him we can be sure
For it is not by might, nor by power, but we God’s Spirit we can achieve his purpose
Even though we face the challenges the world present in God we can be clean, and pure

Children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life in order that I may boast on the day of Christ
Like the church at Philippi we face the challenge to be blameless in world from which sin pours
To stand on the promises of God’s word, to be prophetic in our speaking out to put God first
To love the Lord our God with all our strength, mind, heart and souls, and to love our neighbours
We like Paul need to have the desire to push on toward the Goal, to boast on the day of Christ

That I did not run or labour for nothing, but even if I am being poured out
Like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith
At times it is a struggle to stand for God, we like we’re blown and tossed about
That all our energy is being is being drained, and we feel far from safe
Remember this God in us over the world prevails, over Satan he has clout
In his word, which does not return void, but prospers we can cling, have faith

I am glad and rejoice with all of you.
So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.
This is the day the Lord has made, don’t be blue
The whole earth is his creation, all land and sea
Worship him, keep his promises in full clear view
Seek him while he may be found, in his will be

Deane said...

By contrast, the 13 January 2008 Sunday Star Times--which commemorated the passing of Sir Ed Hillary--managed to produce a comparison between New Zealand and the 'Two-Thirds World'.

Unfortunately, the comparison evoked the sort of racial stereotypes expected from 19th-century anthropologists.

This was the headline, with a picture of Sir Ed in the background:

"To the world he was a
HERO
To the Nepalese he was a
GOD
To us he was the
MAN
who embodied the spirit of New Zealand"

Hmmmmm ... of course, these little Nepalese are primitives who considered the white man to be a god. Of course. Just like Ed Tyler said: they don't think like we do.

In light of this, it might be better that NZ journalists don't make comparisons between NZ and non-OECD countries.

Paul said...

Just watching this panic about recession which has strengthened this morning as the Dow Jones drops. It creates doom scenarios in the OECD akin to what famine or drought does in the rest of the world. I find it fascinating to watch the way people react. It is the worst possible disaster. Regardless of the story CNN is running a little box on the screen that is permanently fixed on the Dow Jones.

It reminds me of when I returned to NZ after a childhood in India. I was so bemused about the way tiny numbers made such big headlines - I had never really heard of 'inflation rates' and 'interest rates' before.
Being a sports fan I could understand stopping tea to pick up the sports news on TV - but it was a new experience to be in a home where everything stopped for the share market report!

Having said this I also recognise that for the hungry to be fed and the poor to be lifted, there still does need to be wealth creation in the world. Recession does not help this ... I guess the issue is more wealth distribution.

Such distribution is a lot easier than we think. Our family and friends have been sending money to this mum in Zambia that I have posted about before (see 'houses and homes') ... I walked into a Western Union booth at 4pm, filled out a single sheet of paper, handed over some money, went home and emailed our Zambian mum in her little town with a magic number and a 'test question' ... and by 11pm that same evening she had been into Western Union and contacted me to say that the money had been received. I was stunned. It can be so easy to send money. It has jolted me into taking greater care over financial decisions.

Smiths in Manila said...

I so agree about the perception of 'weathy'.

If we think we're "poor" in NZ, just come over to a 3rd world country for a little spell, and see how you feel.

I, for one, am all for paying taxes, no matter how high, because I know that in NZ, it will actually go towards the good of the community! We have good sewer systems! We have free education! We have roads that work! Street lights! HEALTH CARE! And if we find ourselves injured, and not able to work, we are helped!

Once you 'taste' of a corrupt government, you realise that in NZ, we are indeed extremely blessed.

(Which is not to say we can become complacent - a garden needs tending, and house, no matter how magnificent, needs continual maintenance!)

Deane said...

Hi Paul,

You might like to know about the current attempt by Jolyon White to live on $1 a day from today, for the next month - on the streets of Dunedin.
http://merkavah-vision.blogspot.com/2008/02/global-poverty-living-on-one-dollar-day.html.

Paul said...

Yes, a friend sent Jolyon's website to me yesterday. Having met him and had him as a student, it does not surprise me that the integrity and passion in his life has directed him in this way.

PS - speaking of the dollar-a-day (a definition of poverty) did you hear John Minto turn down some award from South Africa ... and saying that since the white regime was ousted in South Africa the number of people living on less than a dollar-a-day has doubled? I find that a most disturbing statistic.