Thursday, 3 January 2008

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

Speaking on the last day of the old year to several hundred young people who gathered in the ecumenical centre in Geneva as part of the Taizé, the WCC general secretary Samuel Kobia concluded his reflections on "the word of God is not in chains" with the famous quote above from Margaret Mead.
True encouragement that young and old together small groups of us really can change the world. Kobia looked at historical and contemporary witnesses such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who wrote of hope from third reich prisons, and the young woman writing the Baghdad burning blog. Throughout history and across the world people resist being silenced, refusing to let their words or God's word be enchained.
Kobia looked at a number of things which can keep us in chains today, doubt and fear, poverty and prosperity. I was particularly interested in hearing him say that slavery to materialism and a senses of meaningless can also be a source of "enchainment" - if that's a word. This certainly made me think about my own life. Maybe it's the lot of a Protestant cleric in particular to feel the need to offer meaning to others and yet feel that one's own life lacks meaning. Hmm ... much to think about there.
Anyway, the crowds of young people who came to Geneva because the message of Taizé offers them meaning and encouragement in their lives, have now returned home. I think Calvin's city has been changed by their visit. I hope this different way of celebrting the new year will be part of what helps them and all of us to be part of small, thoughtful groups which change the world.