We wish for things to be right. We work and pray for justice.
Sometimes we feel we are marching off the map. We are ahead of our audience. We think we might be leading where no-one is following.
But, praise God, we often find that the challenge to be prophetic is rewarded with real progress.
Land mines might be a case in point.
Two years ago we began to speak out against the unspeakable horrors of land mines.
They kill and maim the innocent. Long after the war is over, they remain in the ground, expensive and dangerous to get rid of, until someone finds them with a foot fall.
Our international President took the unusual and prophetic position of calling for a complete international ban on the manufacture and sale of land mines.
Others are now falling into line.
What was once seen as woolly idealism is now a solution.
Ban the mine!
“Early in December Bill Clinton’s administration, which had just added three years to a one-year moratorium on land mine exports, wrote to 40 countries pressing them to stop trading the lethal objects, at least for three to five years. Among those getting the letter were Italy, the ex-Soviet republics, China and Brazil, all big sellers of landmines.” (The Economist 25th Dec).
A lesser prophecy.
I recall suggesting last year that we should do away with religious public holidays altogether.
My point was that too many people take public holidays for Christmas and Easter without any idea why the holiday exists.
The number of times we hear media figures telling us that gifts/trees/family (etc) is what Christmas is all about!
Boy! I was ready to hit them over the head with a heavy edition of the Gospel according to St Luke.
If people want to celebrate Christmas, they should do it properly I reckon.
And simply having a day off at the beach is not what Christmas is all about.
Anyway, I noticed that others have begun to call for a new way of thinking about public holidays.
In the Christmas edition of The Economist they suggest “people should choose for themselves when they take their leave.”
The argument is as follows:
“Public holidays should be abolished. The state could lay down (if it must) that workers are entitled to so many days off on top of their normal holidays; but firms and workers should decide among themselves when they are to be taken. Rules, or no rules, some holidays will be almost universally observed--the people of Hong Kong (whose appetite for work is unsurpassed) need no statute to decide collectively to stop for two days in celebration of the Chinese New Year.”
It cannot be a coincidence. The sec (the electricity company) seems to have improved its customer service.
A couple of small things have made a big difference.
Like so many organisations one calls (World Vision included), they seem to know me soon after I call.
“Thank you for calling the sec. All our operators are busy . . . “
Well, never mind. It’s better than when the phone would just ring out.
Two bars of music, then:
“SEC faults centre. This is Rick. How can I help you?”
Ah-ah. I recognise the Quality Service Skills graduates when I hear them.
“I’m calling from Boronia. The power just went off.”
“What’s your address please.”
I give it.
“That’s Mr Hunt, isn’t it.” He doesn’t seem in any doubt. I feel pretty certain he is right too.
“Have you checked your fuse box? Would you mind going and checking the mains switch?”
“I did that already. Power’s off all right. Been off for five minutes.”
“Let me have your number Mr Hunt.”
I give it.
“We’ll have someone right onto it.”
Sure, sure. It takes days. I didn’t come down in the last shower, mate.
The whole house is plunged into natural light, so I go out to prune the bushes along the drive. There’s a garage in here somewhere.
Ten minutes later Judith calls out, “Power’s on again.”
Two minutes later an SEC van pulls up and a couple of pleasant young men ask, “Power on now Mr Hunt?”
“Yes, thanks for your help.”
“A bit of Christmas tinsel in an overhead cross-dynamic finkle-switcher (something like that). Probably a bird put it there. Easily fixed.”
I go back inside with the tinsel news. Judith stops me in mid-explanation.
“I know, I know. They rang back.”
My whole view of the SEC has been transformed in fifteen minutes.
What did it cost them?
Two minutes of extra time from the linesmen. And one phone call.
A small investment in customer service makes a big difference.