Yesterday many of us had a good session with Tim Costello and Jim Wallis in the St John’s Chapel. Tim Costello is well known in Australia. Jim Wallis has been an extremely influential figure in the churches in USA, particularly in is work through Sojourners in bringing out the true justice orientation of the biblical faith. He is very good stuff. His early books and writing in Sojourners almost 30 years ago where very influential in my life. His main point was the need for us to continue to struggle to meet the world’s needs with God’s justice and compassion. He invoked the axiom we have all used at some point, both in reference to ourselves and now to younger generations: we can change the world! Foolishly, however, I asked a question during Q & A time. My question went something like this:
"It seems to me that while we can change some of the world, we don’t seem to be able to change the world. We win some battles but also the world seems to be the same in so many ways from generation to generation. The realization of this can come as a shock. Many people when they realize this become disenchanted, even cynical. How do we prevent this from happening? When disenchantment begins to set in do we hope people will be able to move from ‘we can change the world’ to hope in God, or should we perhaps modify our discourse to young people now, which would mean not being quite so optimistic about the extent of change. Utopia is not going to come through our action."
So, my question again: Do we continue to tell young people they can change the world, or do we change (perhaps only subtly) what we say to them in the first place? But even subtle changes, while I suspect more honest, are just not as inspiring as the refrain, "You are the generation we have been waiting for!"