Friday, 18 August 2006

Outspoken prophets

In a splashy prophetic gesture Archbishop John Sentamu of York, England's first black Archbishop, had his head shorn and anointed in preparation for an act of solidarity with the victims of the Lebanon-Israel war.
He will spend time camped out in his cathedral to draw attention to the plight of those who have been made homeless by the seemingly senseless violence from both sides, which is hopefully now over. And one wonders what has been gained.
One advantage (there are not many) of being Archbishop of York is that you can draw attention to yourself. And though the world may think you are quirky at least it keeps the subject alive.
At least he is being careful to keep it real and have a genuine point of human contact for those who might take notice.
Sentamu says: "I have received letters and calls from people about this conflict, and people are asking 'What can I do?' They feel helpless, they feel bewildered but they want to do something in response to the suffering that they have been watching on their televisions, hearing on their radios and reading in their newspapers." "So my call to everyone is to join me in prayer, join me in fasting join me in providing a meal for every displaced person - especially women and children, medicine for the sick; and at a future date be part of the reconstruction of the areas, in both countries, that have been destroyed"
This seems manageable and authentic.

Another prophet is SA Upper House Member Anne Bressington who yesterday called for all school kids over 14 to be randomly drug-tested.
This doesn't seem to me to be manageable, even though it may be authentic!
Authentic in the sense that Ms Bressington is no doubt tapping into public fears, but unmanageable in the sense that it is taking a sledge-hammer to crack a nut. But maybe I lead a protected life.
I also want to ask (having been a teacher) would teachers be drug-tested, would school volunteers likewise be tested? Will, in the end, MPs be drug tested? And where does this stop?
It seems unmanageable in the sense that any system is inevitably expensive and/or flawed. And begs all sorts of moral questions like why should the obvious rights (innnocent until guilty) of minors be trampled because of fear.

We hear prophecy from the PM today too as he speaks out about the Vietnam War on this anniversary of the battle of Long Tan. He uttered the magic word "sorry", which will inevitably puzzle us all since we had thought he was incapable of doing such a thing!
This makes me suspicious that this is "management" rather than authenticity. Management because the Vietnam lobby now gains much popular sympathy, and we all know how fond dear John is of the popular vote!! But authentic? A little late for that, particularly given his history in saying, or not saying, the magic word.

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