Do you feel like you count? That you matter?
I must admit as I filled out my form I was distracted by such existential questions, especially in light of the unfolding crises in the Horn of Africa & in London.
I wondered if people in the Horn of Africa feel like they count as more than stastics at the moment. I was horrified when expressing my concern over the issue that a person responded with a blaise comment about how its just another African drought and that they get themselves into these problems because they are always fighting among themselves.
I can't remember Jesus making such judgements as people came seeking healing - he looked and he had compassion. To do any less would be dehumanising, wouldn't it?
I also wondered about the young people of London whom I had heard speaking on the radio. How had so many people come to a point of feeling that they had to behave so badly to make their presence felt? Is it because they do not feel like they count?
And what about our own country Australia? The day of the census I heard an interview on ABC radio which raised questions about the forgotten indigenous Australians, left to their own devices by the majority in the community. It was only in 1967 that there was a referendum to include indigenous people on the Census, but I wonder if many still have a concern as to whether they count.
Certainly as I filled in the Census form I did not arrive at some existentially satisfying point personally. I was left wondering about whether counting people will actually lead to a greater sense of identity and purpose. I suggest the answer is no.
So what role does the church play in all of this? How do we help people know that they count? How do we form community? How to we affirm the purpose and existence of others?
Surely this is at the heart of the good news and mission of God to draw people into each others lives and into God's own life - a place where all people truly count.
Peter Lockhart (Photo Creative Commons)