Friday, 21 September 2012

Newsletter Reflection for Sunday 23 September 2012: Good Intentions

Good morning,

You will have heard the saying “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions”. This week, on the news, we’ve been hearing a lot about people who’ve had good intentions, that haven’t worked out quite as hoped for.

An Egyptian man, living in America made a video called “The Innocence of Moslems”, which was apparently meant to be a protest at the treatment of Coptic Christians in Egypt. If you watch the film on You Tube, you might be forgiven for missing the point – because it doesn’t explain the plight of Christians in Egypt at all well, and only spends moments on it before jumping over to a strange,  unbelievable defamation of the Moslem prophet Mohammad. Although subsequent events have meant that lots of people all over the world have put themselves through the trauma of seeing this film, it hasn’t sparked any international outrage over the persecution of Christians, or of human rights violations, because it’s so badly made that nobody gets the point.

What a number of people have taken notice of is the strange attack on the prophet Mohammad. Moslems around the world have been, understandably, offended by it. If Jesus had been portrayed in this manner, Christians would have been offended. Unfortunately, mass protests, some leading to rioting and violence, have not have the intended result of getting people to show some respect  for others’ deeply-held beliefs.  Instead, it’s had the effect of causing millions of people to watch the film to find out what the fuss is about, and of increasing the mythology of some sort of undeclared war between Islam and the USA.

So that’s two lots of good intentions that have gone off the rails. Let’s now look at a third, that could also prove disastrous. So far it’s only a suggestion and has yet to be acted upon.  The suggestion is that what Brisbane really, really, needs is another casino in the heart of the city not far from the existing one.

Attracting tourists and raising additional income from taxes for the state are worthy goals, but there are other potential consequences of putting another casino in Brisbane.  Having lots of poker machines available doesn’t just attract wealthy people on holiday.  It also has a tendency to attract people who have a problem with (or even addiction to) gambling. That impacts not only on the person with the problem, but on their family, friends, and entire community. Because of the social problems this causes, there was a move not long ago to cut down on the number of poker machine licences that were being issued.

There is a huge gulf between intending to do good, and actually doing good.  Proverbs 2:11-13 encourages us to use a bit of foresight. Whenever we set out to do something, we need to check the map to find out whether the road we are on really is leading where we want to go.

Grace and peace

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