This summer, the world will change. How? Why? And who will shape that change?
Those are massive questions, and important ones. Put simple, we must rebuild – there’s no return to normal.
Throughout July and August, Just Love is hosting a series of conversations on Rebuilding: Big Ideas to Change the World. Remember that poem by Kitty O’Meara that was doing the rounds at the beginning of Lockdown? “And the people stayed home”.
“And the people stayed home…
and the people began to think differently.
and the people healed…
and when the danger passed, the people joined together again,
they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images,
they created new ways to live”
It’s a compelling vision, right? We’ve got to make new choices, dream new images, create whole new ways to live in the world. The coronavirus is one of the greatest tragedies of our time, but it is also one of the best opportunities we’ve ever had to fundamentally change things. So how do we make it happen?
History is driven by ideas. “The pen is mightier than the sword”. As one writer put it:
“the response to a crisis is largely determined by the ideas that are lying around when it happens”.
So what are the ideas “lying around” right now?
As Just Love, we’ve collected some of the best “big vision” we’re most excited about right now. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be rolling out content on climate change and the refugee crisis, on social enterprise and ending global racism. There’s no end of “problems” in the world right now, and we need to recognise that. But there’s also hope. Crisis is opportunity – let’s take it.
So what are these ideas? Some are pretty personal, like ethical banking – getting your money out of fossil fuels and sticking it in the future: in renewables, social finance and sustainable housebuilding! Others are about the shape of our families, our communities and our churches. What if we broke out of the Western nuclear family and into the life of radical community – more “Acts 3” than “mortgage, car and 2.5 kids”? We’ll work through the topic of radical hospitality – fostering, adoption and welcome for the stranger. Judah Smith says his family motto is: “He sets the lonely in families” (Ps 68:6)? What if more of us lived like that?
But this is also about the big picture, about politics! Rebuilding society after lockdown has to hit the systemic, the structural, the global: otherwise we’ve missed the point.
So we’re going to stick some radical economics on the table. We’ll talk about cancelling Global South debt, and about unravelling racism – its historic roots and contemporary manifestations. We’ll look at empowering the poor, at innovative solutions to poverty. As we do this, we’ll be drawing on a huge range of speakers, spanning various political perspectives and expressions of Christian faith. This is not so much a manifesto as a collection of ideas for all of us to engage with, wrestle with, take what we will. We’ll be talking to theologians and activists, policy-makers and writers – and even a former contestant from Bake Off! We hope there’s something here for everyone – and something here to provoke everyone, to get you thinking – and acting!
And that’s the whole point, right? This is not a set of good ideas that inspire us for a moment, but soon forget and move on. This is here to galvanise us, to get us thinking – to challenge our premises and convictions, and to get us moving.
Maybe that’s on the personal level – maybe you’re going to “downsize so that others can upsize”, as Francis Chan puts it. Maybe you’re going to commit to a different form of community, or to a radical approach to your money.
Maybe it’s on the systemic level. There’s a lot of us in Just Love: we can shout pretty loud. If we want to, we can kick up a fuss about global debt, about climate politics, about racist superstructures.
And maybe it’s to pray – to ask God to shift the balance on the biggest social justice issues of our day. Karl Barth once wrote that “to clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising”, and he was right. Hosea’s words are for our time:
“Sow righteousness for yourselves,
reap the fruit of unfailing love,
and break up your unplowed ground;
for it is time to seek the Lord,
until he comes
and showers his righteousness on you.”
Once in a generation, God offers the same thing: the chance to turn around, pick up our cross and live it his way. What if this is our moment? Our time to seek, to break up the ground and sow something new?
So, tune in every Thursday at 6pm on Facebook, throughout July and August. Tweet us your own big ideas, message us your thoughts, wrestle these topics through with your friends, family, your church, your Just Love group, your CU, whatever! Let’s get this conversation happening, far and wide. As the Canadian author Naomi Klein puts it: “to change everything, we’ll need everyone”.