Regardless of how dark it seems around us, our calling is to live differently. It does not have to be out loud, trying to drown out the cacophony of sound in the political space – but we thank God for those who are there! But if we all pay attention to the ‘millions of small and tedious good deeds’ every day, so that those around us can see charity in action, it will make a difference. That is our job, in which we can celebrate with joy. It is also why God chose a ‘peculiar people’– to show how we are made to live.
We appear to live in times that seem to be harder for those of us who wish to live out our Christian faith in public. Although as I reflect back across my over sixty years, the marginalisation started for me in the late 1960’s. The early sixties were fine because in my local government primary school, it was taken for granted that our moral code was based on Biblical principles. It was like we lived by the ‘second tablet’ of the Ten Commandments (about ethical life together) even if not everyone held to the ‘first tablet’ (about putting the Creator God in His rightful place).
But then came high school. I and a friend were the two shortest in a cohort of over 240 students. But I was the only one who would ask ‘God questions’ (now known to me as ‘deep’ or ‘philosophical enquiry’). That was enough to see me picked on in some way, including being hit (normally by a group – bullies need that reassurance to act).
What followed was university. That was in 1974. My first year was a blur because I had no idea what I was doing (being the first one in my family to have that opportunity). By second year, the questions started coming back to me, and I looked forward to asking them in a place of ‘higher learning’. But if I asked in Psychology or Sociology something like, “So professor X, can you please explain what you think are the ‘parts’ that make us humans who we are?”, the response was always the same: “We are not here to discuss that.” Or if I asked in Industrial Relations (in an honour group no less), “So what do you Marxists or Capitalists think drives people deep down, so that your theories will work?”, I got the same answer.
So by the mid-1970s, if my experience is anything to go by, the academic world in Australia had let go of thinking and discussing deeper philosophical aspects of human life – personal and social.
But in discussing this recently with a friend, who has been involved in higher education for a significant time, I came to understand that this tactic of ‘ignoring the question’ had shifted for many of our young people. These days, asking these kinds of questions is more likely to result in them being harassed, or if asked via social media, cancelled. Their teachers are more likely to face the same consequences.