The United Nations and Our Suspicions

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A lot of suspicion revolves around some of the activities of the United Nations, like when it serves in nations regarded as our enemies. Like its monitoring of Saddam Hussein’s weapons programs, or Iraq’s “oil for food” program. The corruption of this program highlighted the dysfunction in relationships between nations. Fixing this dysfunction would be better than getting rid of organisations like the United Nations. Saddam could play the nations off against each other, like a child does his parents. And the people who suffered for our dysfunction was the masses of Iraqi people. This is the case time and again, more recently in Syria. Iran could be next. Failure here isn’t the fault of the United Nations, but of we who drive it.

Another area of suspicion is where it appears polices are thrust upon us that many do not agree with. A prime example of this is the Global Warming campaign, including a drive for reducing carbon emissions. Many people suspect this is just a political farce, motivated by other factors. I don’t know the science behind this debate, which does seem to be very complex, so I won’t join in.

However, it is very clear that the world is facing huge environmental challenges, like plastic, deforestation, poaching, illegal overfishing, pollution of air and waters, that if collective action isn’t taken there will be very serious consequences. Investing urgently in renewable energies would be an economic win as well as an environmental win.

As Christians, we know the Torah speaks very clearly to environmental sustainability. The idea that God loves and wants us to care for his creation should not be foreign to us. If we aren’t thinking this way it is another sign of self-centred empire, this time a dysfunction between ourselves and our natural environment. Creation isn’t something we throw away in an “end-times conflict,” or consume on our current needs. It belongs to our offspring and must be handed onto them in a better condition than we found it.

These issues aren’t simple. Man is a complex creature and his greed will always muddy the waters, if you excuse the pun. Investments will be looked for to advantage one industry over another, or a nation will want to deploy its resources as opposed to allowing the resources of another nation the advantage. Cooperation isn’t something humans are well known for.

How we can do this fairly is a great challenge, but if nature is to flourish it will have to be achieved, just as we chose to forgo our advantage over others and outlaw slavery.

Another area of suspicion is where values, like in sexual morality, or the inclusion of religions we feel are contrary to our culture, seem to be enforced upon us. Then we look for a local champion who will sever us from these powerful lobbies. The divorce is often quite traumatic. The kind of liberal democracy we often react negatively against is our response to the Second World War, where Hitler killed those non-compliant to his new world. Now we seek safety for others in inclusive relationships, and this is congruous with the values of the church: “It’s the sick that need a doctor.” They don’t need be shunned.

Since the war, people have feared what might be done to them, whether Jews or homosexuals, and sometimes in this fear they may over protect themselves against others.

This can swing the pendulum of oppression in the other direction, and we feel a kind of dictatorial change coming upon us, forcing us to accept ideas not of our faith. Our reaction to this can be either like the early Pharisees (like Hitler’s response), or like Christ and his cross, where truth was revealed in self-giving service.

Again, this isn’t the fault of the United Nations. They are trying to maintain the rights of all.

It is humans who muddy the water once again, thinking our rights are established by the suppression of others. It’s up to the church to challenge this culture, by showing that our rights are established by serving others. This is what Jesus called freedom, not the making of laws to shut other people out of our lives. Fears like this reveal what the church is really like, but it’s unfortunate that we have often failed this test in the world.

Finally, there is the fear that in the future the United Nations could become a platform for a dictator, that powerful economic leverages could take control over the institution. This fear seems to be in the mind of many people today, and is another reason why they call out, “Everyman to his tent oh Israel.” These were the same fears Israel faced when “justice” served the few and not the many. They pulled apart in division, which was not the will of God. God’s kingdom unites and brings us together through the working of justice between us all. This is the only thing that can heal us. We aren’t there yet, but the church is to mirror these values in our relationships and in our message.

But how can this potentiality of a dictator be addressed? “Prophetic determinism” is wrong.

To see this “dictator” as biblically inevitable is a very poor way of reading the scripture and also very self-serving. Isaiah said that when Christ was born his kingdom of peace would increase in the world and have no end. This is the prophecy that is determined to prevail.

God isn’t leading us to this through our alienating ourselves from others and war, but through the cross. We typically resist this leading.

How do we prevent this dictator? First of all, be led by the bible, not by Hollywood. Then, by facing our fear. Drawing back into our nationalism only forestalls our maturity. It succumbs to the belief that in this current world we must always submit to the forces, the principalities and powers of self-orientation, for a better world is impossible until after Christ returns. It believes we aren’t co-workers with Christ in his kingdom now. It believes the way of this world will always be, whether slavery, weapons trade, or war, and there is nothing we can do about these controlling commercial interests ruling our lives.