I’ve been troubled this week by something I read in ‘The World is Flat’ by Thomas Friedman, (a book which I’ve taken a natural dislike to it has to be said.)
He quotes a translation of an African proverb he once saw in some office somewhere in the world.
The proverb says
“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up.
It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion, or it will be killed.
Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle, or it will starve to death.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle.
When the sun comes up, you better start running.”
I’ve been tossing that about in my head all week because I’m not sure if it’s a bare statement of the way things really are on planet earth or if it’s lies from the pits of hell. I think of reflection it’s from the pits of hell as it denies us our humanity.
It seems to speak of a universe based on competition with winners and losers, a confirmation that life is a race for survival between competitors, which certainly seems to be what the history of the world relates over and over again.
How many times do we hear our politicians or business leaders saying that we have to be more competitive in the global economy?
Or the value placed on education as a way to achieve economic growth.
If there is a course that is popular people compete to get on it,
if there is a good school in the local area parents will fight to get their children in it,
A-Levels, Degree, Masters, PhD, good job, make that cv look impressive.
‘It doesn’t matter if we are gazelle or lion, we had better start running’ seems to an inner law that drives humanity forward,
a law that is basically ingrained in our way of viewing the world.
Yet it doesn’t seem to sit right with some deeper truths about the Kingdom,
this rule of competing against your neighbour or this idea that we’re either gazelles or lions racing for survival because our survival doesn’t depend on us. At the end of the day death still gets us anyway.
For a Christian survival depends upon the mercy of God and grace,
upon something that is beyond our strength and human ingenuity,
upon a servant king and self sacrificial love which are all things that should be at the core of us, grace, mercy, self sacrificial love, service and justice for the weak.
If I run it should be for those things