We Are Not Owners

Hello! The Berwick Advertiser is our regional newspaper. It has a weekly column called 'Thought for the Week'. This week I am the guest contributor. Here it is:

'I have moved into a new house in Berwick. It is not owned by me: I am the custodian. Gaelic culture understands the idea that we are all, ultimately, custodians. Gaelic scholar Michael Lewis writes that ‘people belong to places rather than places belonging to people’. First Nation peoples also understand this truth. So does the Old Testament – it teaches that the land belongs to God, we are its stewards, and tenants who can’t pay their rents should have their debts written off every fifty years.

Today, the 1 per cent who ‘own’ global businesses pursue endless increase in products and profits and ride roughshod over the earth, local communities and work places. They reduce human beings to mere consumers. Now there is talk of the Fourth Industrial Revolution – this basically means that the world can largely be run by gadgets. But in 2016 voters in UK, USA and other lands who felt left behind by globalisation kicked out ruling elites who they thought colluded with this.

Kicking, however, is not enough. What can we do about it? Is there are a part we can all play? Christians believe God wants each person to be a loving, creative steward of the earth, of the place where they live, and of human community. The Queen quoted this saying of the newly sainted Teresa of Calcutta in her Christmas Day TV broadcast: Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.

Berwick was once known as the Alexandria of the North. It can be again – not so much a port as a portal into a thriving and friendly community that welcomes the ideas and energies of everyone. The Town Council invites us to give feed-back that will help draft a Neighbourhood Plan. I’d like to see our football team engaged in our schools and clubs, water sports, a link-up with cycle, walking and pilgrim ways. More than anything, I want this prayer I heard at a Salvation Army prayer meeting: ‘May a bit of your divine landscape roll down into Berwick at this time’.

Posted at 03:34am on 23rd January 2017
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