Tuesday, August 30, 2011

You Ask, I Answer, Take 20

Today's You Ask, I Answer question is the second last of the ones left on my list, and is once again from Johanna in Germany.  (Side note:  Send more questions my way if you like!  I'm still having fun with them, though I do have a plan if I don't get any more from all of you!)

Johanna asked:

What do you think is the biggest/one of the most important challenges for our society/for our generation right now/in the coming years?

It took me a little while to come up with an answer for this one!

I would actually say that I think one of the biggest challenges that we face is figuring out how to live in a world that has become so much larger.  I was reading a historical novel just recently and was struck by the reality that only a century or so ago, a 80 mile distance was immense, and meant that you might only see friends or family living at that distance once or twice a year!  Long distance relationships were conducted by writing letters, and receiving a letter once a week or so was hugely frequent!  Now, my closest friends live in different countries and on different continents from me, and while I don't always see them in person on a regular basis, I hear from them multiple times a week via email, phone calls, and skype.

I'm also struck by how, as we've developed these communication tools to make the world both larger and smaller simultaneously, our concerns have grown.  We are aware of the effects of famine in Somalia, and war in Libya, and earthquakes in Japan and Haiti and elsewhere.  We know instantly about the death of Osama bin Laden, and we speculate about when Will and Kate will produce an heir to the throne.

I think this growth/shrinking of the world is both a blessing and something that presents an immense challenge.  I feel like we've lost the sense of family and community that came with a smaller world, and that a huge challenge for our generation is to figure out how to live with a sense of family, and community and grace on a more global scale.  We have to make choices about how our lifestyle, our finances, our travel, and so many other things affect not only those close to us, but those on the other side of the planet.  We need to consider the ramifications of the fact that we might talk daily with someone on another continent and not know who lives in the apartment next door.  With a larger world comes a sense of responsibility - do my choices about transportation, about the environment and the food I consume have an affect on someone living in sub-saharan Africa?  Does the fact that I have more than enough even though I'm on the lower end of the North American income scale make me responsible for the family existing in extreme poverty in Haiti or Cambodia?

As I write, I think about people asking Jesus who their neighbor really is, and I think that question they asked two thousand or so years ago takes on a new significance in an age where in many ways the whole world can be considered our neighbors.

So, that's my answer - I think figuring out how to live out a Christian ethic of loving your neighbor, in the midst of a world that has expanded/shrunk is a huge challenge for our generation, and one that will very much define the mark that we will leave on history.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you, that really is a challenge! Thanks for answering...

Lisa said...

anytime! If you have more questions, you know where to send them :)