It's Sitting In Our Driveway
by Paul Walker
There seems to be a lot of fear about. Will we be killed by suicide
bombers? Are we going to get mugged on our way to the shops? Will our
children be abducted by a homicidal paedophile?
These are genuine worries that can affect us all. But we also know that
if we are to die a violent death, in all probability the most likely cause
is currently sitting in our driveway. Another likely cause is presently
heating our houses and another is cooking our dinner.
So why are we scared of things that are highly unlikely to happen while
at the same time not being frightened of cars, or household gas, or
Far more people are killed every year by global warming than by global
terrorism. Yet the urgency with which the war on terror is being waged is
almost matched by the lethargy with which we fulfill the Kyoto agreement.
Apparently in Britain people are more likely to install burglar alarms
than fire alarms. We tell our children to be wary of strange men, while
uncomfortably knowing that the man most likely to abuse them is their
Human nature is perverse. It is almost as if we would rather fear the
exciting than the mundane. If you�re going to worry about dying you might
as well think about a suicide bomber rather than a boring old stroke. I�m
always amused to listen to heavy smokers worrying about how little fruit
Of course the real reason behind this might be that we don�t want to
anything. Suicide bombers, muggers, paedophiles are all somebody else�s
responsibility - not our own. Stopping terrorism is the job of the head of
state, not you or I. On the other hand, whether, how and what we drive is
our responsibility. Protecting children from family members, rather than
strangers, raises difficult and embarrassing questions.
I wonder whether this is rooted in the dependency encouraged by much of
our traditional religion. Human beings have always been helpless and aware
of their helplessness. The result has been to project our hopes and fears
on a God whom we see as omnipotent. If we are not responsible for our own
destiny because the forces of nature take such a toll, we pray to one who
is above nature. Even those who claim no religious allegiance tend to cry
out, �Oh God, help us!� when all seems lost.
The problem in today�s world is that as our knowledge has increased, so
have we learnt that a great deal that happens is our
responsibility. Drought may often be caused by global warming. Many
diseases are caused by poor lifestyle choices like smoking or obesity.
Some untimely deaths are caused by our insatiable need to travel.
So we know that much suffering is the result, not of blind fate, nor of
an incomprehensible God but of human action.
If the world ends tomorrow it will not be with Jesus coming down on a
cloud, but with a filthy cloud of our own making. The human race is the
master of its own destiny, and it is about time we took responsibility for
that destiny. I still believe that Jesus� message of a kingdom within us
and within our grasp is possible - but not if we expect a distant God to
rush to our aid.
Rather, it will come if we listen to the God within us who constantly
reminds us that things are not right and encourages us to act.