Tag Archives: values

The ends of the world as we know them – suicidal tendencies of our civilizations.

So many articles (here, here, here, here, here, and here) try to address the main questions in our world today. The many attempts to explain what is going on in our day and time is really like treading water in an empty pool… in 2005 the editors of the New York Times choose to promote a book written by Jared Diamond called “The ends of the world as we know them.” Later on Diamond won the Pulitzer prize for his non-fiction book, “Guns, Germs, and Steel.” In 2005 this same Diamond published “Collapse; How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed” (Check his lecture at the University of CA) which became like a historical bible for many students helping to describe history in a new perspective.

I came across some of this information as I recently started to read (again) about the decline of civilizations. Because let’s be honest; we are in the middle of the decline of our (Western) civilizations… and, to quote a real expert on that: “There is nothing new under the sun!” Ecclesiastes 1: 9-10 “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. 10 Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time”.

civilization

The fact is that history repeats itself… Therefore we need to learn from history. We are on the verge of a total new time of transition and will have to learn to deal and live with new facts and new life about, and in our world. Why? Because the worlds as we now know them will not be there in the near future…

During my MA in Intercultural Studies I was interested in researching the upcoming and fall of cities and societies. The main expert on this I found to be Arnold Joseph Toynbee (April 14, 1889 – October 22, 1975) Toynbee was a British historian whose twelve-volume analysis of the rise and fall of civilizations, “A Study of History”, 1934-1961, was a combination of world history, a meta-history based on universal rhythms of rise, flowering and decline, which examined history from a global perspective.

Toynbee argues that “self-determining” civilizations are born (out of more primitive societies), not due to racial or environmental factors, but as a response to challenges, such as hard country, new ground, blows and pressures from other civilizations, and penalizations. He argues that for civilizations to be born, the challenge must be a golden mean; that excessive challenge will crush the civilization, and too little challenge will cause it to stagnate.

He argues that civilizations continue to grow only when they meet one challenge only to be met by another. He argues that growth is driven by “Creative Minorities,” those who find solutions to the challenges which others then follow.

While Diamond in his book from 2005 emphasizes the need to fight the environmental factors (which I don’t want to minimize) he agrees with Toynbee that “civilizations die from suicide, not by murder” when they fail to meet the challenges of their times.

I find these thoughts very challenging and provoking… It is like waling the tightrope; too little challenge will lead to stagnation, too much will crush us! However, the point of interest for me is to be part of the “Creative Minority” which finds the solutions to our challenges today!

Looking back throughout history (His Story = God’s Story) makes me dare to believe that the people of God, the Christians can be those minorities… as they have been throughout the history of our world. In so many ways and in so many cases history writers (most often male and part of the ruling majority) have silenced and hidden the accomplishments of the remnant of God’s people in their societies who were part of laying foundation and proposing structures and values which carried whole civilizations through the transitions of challenge and change.

I appeal to sensible women and men of God who are willing to pay the price to be part of this “overwhelming minority” which somehow, some way will be used to bring hope to a fallen and suicidal world as they in humbleness and soberness live out the fullness of life through Jesus Christ in this dying world!

That’s the Way I see it!

John

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Guidelines for teenagers who want sex – RFSU hands off!

According to Svenska Dagbladet has the RFSU (the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education) taken the initiative to exhort the Swedish government to form common guidelines for sexuality which are to be applied in the advice and counseling which is given in the 225 centers in the nation where youth can come to receive help and support.

Now up till here I am in agreement with the RFSU (which I seldom am!), I do agree that we need common guidelines in services which we provide on a national level. However, what these guidelines need to address and contain I have many questions about.

The RFSU addresses the fact that the personnel in the different centers implement the constitution which was accepted in 2005 and meant to protect young people from sexual abuse. The law addressed among other things that more situations could be considered rape and that those who had sex with a person under the age of 15 should be more easily convicted for rape. The RFSU tries to bring the application of the law down to questions like: Is it illegal for a 14 and 16 year old to have sex? At the moment parents have the right to know what their children under the age of 18 get for advice / treatment.

My conviction is (based upon their own description of their programs and values) that RFSU is trying to loosen up the principles applied in our legal system and thus breaking down many of the values that might be needed to have a healthy society and family life. One of the convictions they have is the right teenagers have to decide whether and with whom they want sex.

Now, while addressing the inconsequence of praxis in the 225 centers which need common guidelines, I am sure that they have already prepared (as they use to) a set of advices and guidelines which will allow a greater sexual freedom lower in age to facilitate (as they surely will tell us) the needs and wishes that young people today have in regards to their sexuality.

In a few year old study done in the US we can read: Sexually Active Teenagers Are More Likely to Be Depressed and to Attempt Suicide. The present study exam­ines the linkage between teenage sexual activity and emotional health. The findings show that:

When compared to teens who are not sexually active, teenage boys and girls who are sexually active are significantly less likely to be happy and more likely to feel depressed.

When compared to teens who are not sexually active, teenage boys and girls who are sexually active are significantly more likely to attempt suicide.

The fact is that when asked about the timeing of their sexual debut, the teenagers answered the following way:

The survey was funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and 17 other federal agencies.

What do I want to say with this observation? I do not trust our children in the hands of the RFSU! If we condone or legalize sex between a 14 and 16 year old… what happens if the 14 year old decides to have sex with a 23 year old? Will we suddenly apply other measures, other measuring tools for other ages? Most probably we will see the growth of situations as described in Dagen and Göteborgsposten. The removal of limits (laws, principles, values) will overtime completely destroy the very young people that we as adults are called to protect, develop and support! We will educate our children, as they will have to make their own decisions as time comes. But for now: RFSU – hands off from our kids! That’s the Way I see it!

John

World Values Survey – another way of looking at cultures!

For some years now I have closely observed the developments and studies in the World Values Survey. I find them interesting as I encounter the different values in the multi-cultural setting of New Life Church in Stockholm, Sweden. Let me start off by showing you some characteristics and I will take more time writing about them in my next blogs!

This study from 1981 – 2006 is called “A Human Development View on Value Change” Christian Welzel, Switzerland.

The Vertical graph:

1. The left Traditional/Secular values graph (down left) reflects the contrast between societies in which religion is very important and those in which it is not. Societies near the traditional pole emphasize the importance of

· parent-child ties and respect to authority,

· along with absolute standards and traditional family values,

· reject divorce, abortion, euthanasia, and suicide.

2. Societies with secular-based-on-reason values (the top left) have the opposite position on all of these topics.

The horizontal graph

The second dimension of this graph deals with Survival and Self-expression values. The tremendous wealth that has built up in different societies during the past generation means that an increasing part of the population has grown up taking survival for granted.

1. The left side, survival values; economic and physical security. Trying to make ends meet; focus on making it for another day.

2. The right side; we see that priorities in life have shifted from an emphasis on economic and physical security toward an increasing emphasis on subjective well-being, self-expression and quality of life. Studies show that focuses have shifted from Traditional toward Secular-based on reason values, in almost all industrial societies.

Take a look at Sweden (where I am living at the moment) and most of the Western countries (including Japan)!

· The strong independence and individualism make us focus on our own immediate problems, often cutting us off from our own past as well as the history of our society.

· We do not think about the traditions that have formed us or about the larger problems of our society . . . It is oriented to our immediate wants, desires, and emotions.

Just an observation… I will later write about some of the implications!

See you again soon!

John