08 August 2008

Devastation and despair - there is hope

20 teenagers have been stabbed in London this year.

In The Saturday Times Faith Register, Sir Jonathan Sachs recalls George Orwell's comment in the 1940's that 'The gentleness of the English civilisation is perhaps its most marked characteristic'. What has gone wrong with us since then?

In recent years, we have seen family breakdown, loss of community and 'an almost total collapse of respect for authority'. And sometimes it is hard to see how we can get out of this mess. What hope is there of moving from this grey and desolate landscape of devastation and despair?

But we have been here before.

In the 1820's, the streets of London were so dangerous that Sir Robert Peel set up the Metropolitan Police. Gang culture, murder, theft and drunken violence were rampant. The percentage of children born out of marriage was rising dramatically.

And yet, by 1940, George Orwell was painting a picture of gentle civility. What happened?

This radical change was the combined effect of new institutions such as temperance societies, state schools, youth groups like the YMCA, voluntary groups, charities, friendly societies and, above all, Sunday schools. All of these changed the people who attended them, from the inside out, and so put in place the foundations for a law-abiding society.

And underpinning all these initiatives? Christianity - a relationship with the living God who created every one of us and whose heart's desire is for us to know Him and so to be all that we are created to be.

So, there IS hope.

As we see the Church rising, stepping up to her responsibility and her authority; as Christians come to know the heart of God and begin to work with Him to reach those around them, those He loves so much.

As we do this, we will see this nation transformed.


Nicole Messeter said...

Hear, hear!

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