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Sine Loop

Progress

A woman wakes in rural Africa with the first light of dawn. She rises and walks a mile to the nearest well, returns with the water-carrier on her head to begin making breakfast for the family. The wood fire is lit, the grain is mixed. 3 hours after waking all are fed and cleaned and the brushwood home is ready to be tidied.

A woman wakes in Britain, turns on the tap, makes coffee and toast and asks "what will I do with this, another dreary morning?"

The men of Papua New Guinea decide that today their village will eat honey. They spend the morning walking through the forest to the area known for the best bees nests. All afternoon they climb trees to gather honey in order to treat their families that evening: 2 bags of fresh honey.

To you £2 in a 5 second grab from the Tesco shelf

The men of Britain enter the daily cycle of work. Shifting information in cyberspace and accumulating through global investments, they stop to grab a lunchtime sandwich before returning to the deadlines and the pressure. Somewhere at home is a list of convenience goods waiting to be bought, an expectation of Christmas toys, a series of leisure items waiting for the paycheque…

One world buys time, buys its goods cheap, and sells its busy soul.

Another finds time, finds a few free treats from nature's garden, and shares its simple soul.

Such is our humankind.

And in between is the chain of global economy. The Indonesian worker sweating 14 hours for £2 a day, slaving for the Nike swoosh, the scorched Brazilian rain forest making space for the affordable Macdonald's burger cow, the African soil sold for the export crops while subsistence fails to meet the people from their poor scrap of land allocation.

Something, somehow is going wrong.

Someone, somewhere is paying the price.

Somebody, sometime must know, what is progress?

And I am caught in the cycle.

The finest artists, the cleverest minds, the greatest humorists in our land are all caught in the cycle. They make me want the luxuries that keep others wanting for the basics. They make beautiful items that are affordable to me but are dream-goods for those that make them. And so I spend my days working to afford the things that promise relief from the cycle, yet keep me in it.

I hear that it costs less than the price of a family car to transform the life of hundreds of people in an African village. For £8,000 you can install mechanical irrigation. Their homes, their crops and their livestock are revitalised by clean and plentiful supplies of water. Disease decreases, the land yields more and varied crops, and they have sheep and cows to rear and sell. Families stay together rather than having to lose their men to the cities to try find work. All for the cost of a car.

I imagine myself being stuck in a queue on the motorway. Car after car stretched out to the horizon. I am bored and frustrated, each vehicle ahead of me is like a symbol of my anxiety and lost time. And each vehicle is the equivalent of a New World for hundreds who are waiting for progress.

I wish they could meet each other. As I watch, the queue becomes surrounded by thousands of animated African people. Each group carries away one of the cars to be sold for their own regeneration, and the car owner is thrilled to be so important to their community. Instead of being bored and frustrated the car owners are now celebrities to their African hosts. I am happy because now I can drive on… the road is empty… except now my car is surrounded, and I have a choice. Which way is progress?

Something, somehow is going wrong.

Someone, somewhere is paying the price.

Somebody, sometime must know, what is progress?

Before I can be part of my society's progress I must know what will serve my own progress towards God.

I am told I must follow my instincts, listen to my inner voice. How do I hear it when my desires are so processed by my environment and culture?

I know that I will be most satisfied when I succeed on my own terms and when my terms are in harmony with the way of my Creator.

I want to invite people to meet me in this space, and let their stories change mine.

African woman, so much in need of fresh water, come and talk to me.

Indonesian child working all day for my cheap leisure goods, come and talk to me.

Forest dweller, so in harmony with the environment my people destroy, come and talk to me.

Jesus Christ, present in the cries of the poorest, come and talk to me.

Today I call you Lord again,

So tell me, what must I do?

And what is progress?