Last week, I heard a western pastor say “We are so blessed. We live in the most blessed time in the most blessed country in the world. God has truly blessed us.”
We in the western world have a lot of stuff. We have abundant food, roofs over our heads, healthcare (at least some of us do...oooh...topical) and almost every comfort that we could desire.
We are truly blessed.
Because as I got to thinking, I started realising that many of the material blessings we have are ours because we live in a culture and society that takes them for ourselves. Do we thank God for the things he has given us, when, in actual fact we have just taken? Do we find ourselves in this 'blessed' position because we stand on the shoulders of others around the world?
Those who work long hours in dangerous conditions so we can have shiny iPads and the newest iPhone on offer.
Who skip school to stitch clothes so that we can have something cheap off the rack.
Who suffer the consequences of climate change because of our unwillingness to compromise or sacrifice on our creature comforts, even at the cost of human life.
And it got me thinking about these “blessings” we take for granted.
Can we really use the term ‘blessing’ for something we have taken that was never ours to take? Is God really choosing us, favouring us, over the millions or billions who had the bad luck of being born on the wrong side of the first/third world divide?
Are we blessed, or are we just greedy, selfish individuals who cover up that side of ourselves we dislike by masquerading our triumphs as blessings? Telling ourselves that we are blessed so we don’t ever have to question our actions or change the ways we interact with the global community?
How many of the blessings we thank God for have we deprived others of by taking from them to increase our plenty?
I’m challenged by my attitude to the things around me. If I’m thankful for something, if I’m feeling blessed, then I want to know that I don’t have it at the expense of someone else's misfortune or suffering. That by my choices I am not clambering over fellow members of the human race to perch myself comfortably as king of the castle.
I was angered by the words of the pastor. But also, with retrospection, more angry at myself. Although he was the one saying the words, I was the one living the life. Living a life no differently from those around me.
A life without thought for those who are cursed so I can stay "blessed".
May that change.