Moemoeātia te moemoeā engari whakatīnanahia
Dream the dream but achieve it also
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You’re not trying hard enough. Sorry. Please save your praise, we don’t want it. Don’t invite us here to tell us how inspiring we are without doing anything about it. It doesn’t lead to anything.
Greta Thunberg to the US Senate
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People need hope and inspiration desperately. But hope and inspiration are only sustained by work.
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We are hearing a loud and very clear challenge from young people right now. It reminds me of the verses in Joel (quoted in Acts 2) about sons and daughters prophesying and young people seeing visions.
Their vision of their future as adults concerns them greatly. Will life on this planet be liveable?
What will it be like in 2100 when babies born now reach old age.
There is quite a debate going on whether our youth should be leaving school classes to protest about climate change. As one politician (aged 70 plus) said, “they should be at school, getting a good education, and then being able to contribute to our country’s productivity.” But they can see longer term than the next two or even three decades.
Specifically, their protest is about the inaction of leaders on whom they have to rely at this stage of their lives. They are not yet the leaders. They do not yet vote. But it is their future that is most at stake.
Joel also said that the old people are to dream dreams. There is a clear role for the elders to draw on experience and keep dreams alive. With a lifetime of living in expectation and hope that we can make a difference for the future, there’s no point giving that up now, no matter how hard it is and no matter how bad it seems to get.
The prophets in the Old Testament were big on hope. Unfortunately, we’ve more often heard just their opening words, the ones making clear bad stuff was happening; the leaders were not being leaders for all the people, some getting the benefits, but most being left out; that the earth itself is being damaged. Yes, they talked about that too – environmental destruction by raiding armies and by urban exploitation of the rural poor.
The prophets started with “a state of the nation” strip down. They continued with a message of change and of hope. Turn back to ways of living that build community and livelihood for all. Turn back to God: keep the faith and work for the future.
Jeremiah did something like this when he bought back a piece of family land right in the middle of the exile (Jeremiah 32), when that land was still under the control of the occupying Babylonians. He put his money where his mouth was, to show people he believed God did have a good future for them. They just needed to join it, to believe it would happen and do whatever they could to work towards it.
That’s what I see as our call to action, all of us as adults, older and younger, and as young people.
Like Jeremiah, believe in what seems almost impossible with the trend of current events – a future that is liveable for the next generations and not condemned to conflict and contest over resources.
Yes, be inspired by our young people, inspired to help turn our dreams of what good life looks like and feels like into their reality in the decades to come.
It’s not the whole solution we’re asked to come up with. Just to have hope. To have hope and to prove it by living now in a way that helps towards good life on this planet. Every little bit makes a difference.
The last word is from an Old Testament scholar whose teaching has been formative for me, Walter Brueggemann. Hope is for him a key theme, perhaps the key theme of the Bible:
Hope is not a passive reliance upon God. Hope is a human act of commitment to and investment in the future. Hope is an act of human courage that refuses to cherish the present too much or be reduced to despair by present circumstance. Hope is the capacity to relinquish the present for the sake of what is imagined to be a reachable future. In the end, hope is a practice that bets on a vision of the future that is judged to be well beyond present circumstance, even if one does not know how to get from here to there.
Rangimarie Peace Shalom