One person revolutionaries
2 December, 2010 Leave a comment
Sarah, my beautiful wife, introduced me to a very good programme entitled “Ian Hislop’s Age of the Do-Gooders“. The excellent yet slightly ‘geeky’ (Sarah’s words) Ian looks at individuals that have changed our political, social and economic landscape by the actions they took during the Victorian era. Something which you may have noticed about the Victorian era is that it seems very prudish, with swearing, philanderous behaviour and ill manners also being frowned heavily upon. Before the Victorian era however, things were quite different. It was the actions of individuals throughout the UK that inspired, challenged and motivated people into making a difference: individuals such as William Wilburforce, Thomas Wakley and George Dawson, to name but a few.
What was inspiring whilst watching the TV programme was the determination and passion of these revolutionaries to change something negative that they saw in their areas and fields of expertise. Some challenged the system through their writings, some through public speaking and some through action. In all the examples though, these individuals continued their struggle for what they believed in, even when they had setbacks.
It was encouraging to hear these stories and in most cases they were an embodiment of the feelings of others, but due to their position within a class based system, they were able to make a difference. However, with our culture not being a class based system, I still believe that we are able to make a difference wherever we need to. Through a variety of different mediums we are able to change the world around us for the better. Preacher George Dawson taught the idea of a civic gospel in his area of Birmingham. Essentially, this was the teaching that it wasn’t down to the people in power to make changes, but to the ‘weak’ collective. Ordinary people would make the difference wherever was necessary, and the movement introduced public libraries, water and sewerage systems and even Birmingham University can be attributed to this movement. There are modern examples of this movement through a social gospel, and this probably wasn’t the first kind of movement, but it was a powerful one.
When God calls us, nothing can be against us. Philippians 4:13 makes clear that we can do all things. Let us not be discouraged when we see poverty, injustice or lack of hope, but let us take encouragement in the people before us who have pushed on and made a difference. They did it, and so can we. This challenge is as much for others as myself: wherever there is a problem that needs to be sorted, even on a national level, let us not be silent and but the responsibility on someone else. rather, let us take up our lips, hands and even computer keyboards and proclaim justice, peace, hope and love wherever it is required.