I live a privileged life. In modern terms, I’d come under the “WEIRD” acronym.
Rich [in world terms],
Particular ways of viewing the world, and nothing necessarily wrong with any of them. Some say I am also weird in other ways, but we’ll leave that for now. I am also a privileged male that sits as part of a dominant culture over females (unconsciously for many) in some ways.
And partly because of all of these inherited things, I get to have the potential of travel for pleasure. Whether I choose to use that potential, is another question. But many students I work with this year have said back to me:
“It’s ok for you! You’ve already travelled lots. But for me – why do I have to consider all of these things in my travel? I’ve still to have my fun!”
Underneath the question lies the assumption: “Travel is my right.” Everyone does it. It’d hardly be fair if everyone can do it but you’re telling me to think why I want to do it!
Which is why we encouraged our students in Ireland a few years ago to think that “This is not your cow”!
Psalm 50 says:
“for every animal of the forest is mine,
and the cattle on a thousand hills.
11 I know every bird in the mountains,
and the insects in the fields are mine.
12 If I were hungry I would not tell you,
for the world is mine, and all that is in it.”
Worth reading it all here
If God has given us our every breath, let us be thankful.
If God has given us our minds to think about what we don’t have, let us be thankful.
If God has given us our lips to express ingratitude, let us be thankful!
The thought behind this advert and campaign was to get us all to think of how many things we have been given in life. The One who owns the cattle on a thousand hills has given us a few proverbial ones to mind for a short while. So let’s thank him and use them wisely!
If I fall into the WEIRD category, let me not flagellate myself and isolate myself from using my influence or seeing things from that viewpoint. No, let me use this status for the service of others.
May I use:
Western lenses only if they help humanity thrive, and only alongside my eastern friends. Education to empower others and alongside those who aren’t as educated.
Industrialised outlook to benefit others and in conjunction with those who are not.
Riches to enjoy giving sustainably to those who have not in engaging ways.
Democratic principles lightly, knowing they are not the solution to everything.
Unlike student campuses recently, I don’t think the answer lies in banning the privileged. No, let us empower them to use their gifts wisely! And the greatest empowerment? For me, it’s living with a God with me who is outside of time and space and such categories. It’s seeing things through such eyes, and living in a worldwide Church (not the institutionalised sort you may be thinking of) where most of the people are not in these WEIRD categories. Every day I can wake with that attitude, and that empowering. It’s life-changing!
And I live with a community of others who do too. That’s how when I first graduated and entered a job serving others (and not earning much), I got given a free car by someone I didn’t know well, who didn’t earn much either. It’s how each week an old lady provides milk from her measly welfare payments, so that the Cork International Student Cafe can have tea and coffee. It’s how I hope most of my travel has not been for sheer pleasure, but to serve the best interests of the world and the Church.
And so what about my right to travel?
Well, regardless of how others are using their rights, I’ve been entrusted with a fair few cows, and I’m trying to be accountable to others and to God in how I use them. How you use yours, is up to you. But I’d suggest the only “right” lies with the owner of the cattle on a thousand hills. Knock on His door demanding your rights to travel and see what He says. That said, He’s known for His generosity.