Looking the other way
Psalm 15 (NRSVA)
1 O Lord, who may abide in your tent?
Who may dwell on your holy hill?
2 Those who walk blamelessly, and do what is right,
and speak the truth from their heart;
3 who do not slander with their tongue,
and do no evil to their friends,
nor take up a reproach against their neighbours;
4 in whose eyes the wicked are despised,
but who honour those who fear the Lord;
who stand by their oath even to their hurt;
5 who do not lend money at interest,
and do not take a bribe against the innocent.
Those who do these things shall never be moved.
Taking 'a bribe against the innocent’… Isn’t that phrase chilling? The haunting idea of being paid to look the other way while someone else, somewhere else, pays the cost.
Innovative technological developments in the 20th and 21st centuries have brought us many wonders — improving the quality, length and richness of life in a myriad ways. We have come together to share ideas and achieve incredible progress. We have been able to remove a lot of the drudgery and labour of everyday living. The Swedish academic Hans Rosling argued that the best invention to come out of the industrial revolution is the washing machine — because of the potential it unlocked in freeing up the time of mothers like his own. Sadly, as Rosling points out, these benefits have not been spread out equally around the world.
In pursuit of evermore convenience we have found ourselves time and again not so much eliminating inconvenience as hiding it, or postponing, or sending it far, far away. We create an enormous amount of waste with all the packaging we go through day by day. There is still a lot of inconvenience in the business of human living we just ship it overseas, sweeping our rubbish aside. Our technological progress is sometimes not only hoarded but only feasible at the expense of others.
We take a bribe against the innocent when our actions pass the cost of our lifestyles on to someone else who has to clear it up and deal with the consequences. We will all have to make adjustments to pay for the damage we’re causing to the planet but some will have to pay more and sooner than others. We must look to God and start looking another way — towards equality and human flourishing for all.
Stop us when we take a bribe against the innocent
when we figure that someone else somewhere else can deal with the rubbish our lifestyles cause.
Make us better.
Make us more.