Tuesday, 8 May 2018

A Couple of Notes From the Travel Diary

This is the Way The World Ends . . . 

To use Willie Nelson's line, we've "been on the road again" taking a trip through the Bay of Plenty.  Oftentimes it is the unusual and unexpected encounters that stand out.  Here is one which our readers may find provocative and thought provoking.  

We had occasion to meet with a front-line cop and the course of conversation turned to "front-line" issues in one of the larger Bay of Plenty towns.  He described what policing is like these days.  The government benefit gets paid out fortnightly.  Then, within two to three days afterwards the incidence of burglaries and thefts sky-rockets.  Anything which can be carried is targeted.  It may be theft from shops, businesses, homes, community facilities.  Anything not bolted down and which can be converted into cash or traded for meth is the ticket.

When the offenders are apprehended and the conversation begins over "what" has the perp done, and "why", a pattern emerges.  Within a couple of days the offender's government benefit has all been spent on methamphetamine and the addict is craving the next fix.  In desperation they steal to survive the next ten or so days.  Hence the rise of theft and burglaries all over town for ten days, until the next welfare payment.  Whereupon, the cycle and its pattern begins all over again.

Just think about this for a bit.
  "P" is no respecter of gender, age, social status, career, or intellect.  The lower socio-economic cohorts can only survive by using street-smarts, local knowledge and a drug-craved cleptomania.  The upper cohorts steal from employers, friends, and relatives.  They raid whatever savings they do have until it is all spent.

The authorities have no answer.  There is no effective solution.  Sure, there are copious plans, programmes, and strategies devised by this government agency or that authority, all of which fail in the end.  Meth is so destructive that governments are effectively powerless.  The scourge has now spread to where it is controlling the life and customs of provincial towns.  Give a few more years and they will resemble the wastelands of Mordor.

Has there been any time in history to which this drug-crime-scourge can be compared?  One apt comparison may be the life and times of England in the 18th century.
The eighteenth century in England is know as the "Gin Age".  Horrible child abuse was often the result of drinking strong, fiery, poisonous gin, which out-rivaled beer as the national beverage.  Irish historian William Lecky defined the national gin-drinker's drunkenness as the "master curse of English life between 1720-1750."  The inevitable evils of alcoholism followed--poverty, violence, prostitution, and murder.  The liquor trade, with its daily disruption of the nation's life, was the cardinal cause of social disintegration and degeneration during those thirty years.  [Vishal Mangalwadi, The Book That Changed Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2011)  p.262.]
What changed?  God did something extraordinary.  He raised up John and Charles Wesley and George Whitfield.  These men decided to take the Gospel to the ordinary man and woman--and so began to preach outdoors.  It was the beginning of what was subsequently called the Great Awakening.
It is no exaggeration to say that Wesley--and all these things were true of Charles and Whitefield also--instilled into the British people a new and biblical concept of courage and heroism.  His tranquil dignity, the absence of malice and anger, and above all, the evidence of God's Spirit working in his life, eventually disarmed his enemies and won them for Christ.  Soldiers, sailors, miners, fishermen, smugglers, industrial workers, thieves, vagabonds, men, women, and children listened intently, in rapt reverent attention, gradually removed their hats and knelt, often emotionally overcome, as he pointed thousands upon thousands to God's grace.  For more than fifty years Wesley fed the Bible, the Word of Life, to drink-sodden, brutalized, and neglected multitudes.  [Ibid., p. 265f.]
We believe that it will take something out of the ordinary, something similar to Mangalwadi's account above, to save our people from the curses which are now beginning to fall upon us.  Methamphetamine reflects a dissembling, a breaking up of society.  In reality the authorities are part of the problem--for they claim power to prevent, heal, and restore.  But they cannot change the human heart or a full-throated rebellion against Almighty God.  Indeed, the authorities in their own ways are in the vanguard of the Great Rebellion.  The authorities in fact champion the Rebellion--and then it spins out of control and turns in upon itself (and them).

What can they do to redeem a plague of fifteen year olds from stealing  and scavenging to buy sufficient meth to get them through the day.

As T. S. Eliot once put it:
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

No comments: