Thought for the Day - Rt Rev James Jones
Abraham Lincoln was a great raconteur. A favourite story was about the Revolutionary War hero Ethan Allen. Shortly after the Peace was signed between America and Britain Allen visited England. The British would often make fun of the Americans especially General Washington. One day his host put up a picture of George Washington in the outside lavatory. Allen ignored the insult until he was pressed to make a comment. Much to his host’s surprise he thought it very appropriate – for clearly nothing made the English open their bowels ‘so quick as the sight of General Washington!’
No doubt that story will do the rounds tomorrow as Americans celebrate Independence Day on the 4th of July. Although, now, enmity has given way to friendship, even to a special relationship, and the colonial enemies of George 111 have become the allies of Elizabeth 11. And Britain which was once a vast empire is now dwarfed by the might of America. And so the tables have turned.
This rise and fall of nations and of people of power is a theme throughout the Bible. Daniel the Prophet believed it was God who “deposed kings and set up princes”, and Mary, the mother of Jesus, proclaimed it was God who not only “brought down the powerful from their thrones” but also “lifted up the lowly”.
This outlook of faith shaped the American Declaration of Independence. They believed the natural law of God gave them, the underdog, the right to separate from an oppressive power. Faith fuelled their resistance and gave them the rhetoric of revolution. They believed that if ever a government denied a people their God given rights to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness they had the right to abolish it.
But how will the tables turn again in this century? Already the soothsayers predict world domination by China. Like in a game of musical chairs this is the nation which, when the music stops, will grab the seat of global power.
Around the world we’ve got used to protests about the might of America. But as China makes its moves in Africa, Asia and South America seems to be such silent acquiescence. Although, in Hong Kong over the weekend thousands of people took to the streets to voice their protest for the full democracy they were promised.
Is it because power has already passed to Beijing that lesser nations wish to curry favour and to be on the same side as this Asian Tiger?
Those Scriptures which shaped the American Dream provoke another question about our future history. Not, who’ll be the next super power to rule the world; but, who’ll be the next generation of the poor and lowly. For, according to Mary, God will one day exalt them and according to her son, theirs is the very side that the just should be on.