Building a Culture of Life in Today’s World
Dr. Jacqueline Michael explores the knowledge and attitude required and the method and means with which to build a culture of Life in todays contrary world.
The written word has influenced the mind of man and the sculpting of society for millennia. Plato’s ‘The Republic’, considered to be one of the greatest works of philosophy and political theory ever written, shaped western thought for thousands of years. Similarly, Marx and Engels ‘The Communist Manifesto’, one of the founding pillars of communism, has influenced the lives of millions of people either directly or indirectly over the last 150 years.
Today’s written word may not come in inked tomes bound in leather, but rather on handheld devices encased in glass and polycarbonate. Nonetheless, the written word continues to shape ideas, drive narratives and influence action. The narratives we read and are influenced by are not penned by a single person but by an increasingly diverse number of people from across the globe. That almost every person who is connected to the internet can produce content and anyone can become an influencer goes without saying. But before we set about trying to build a culture of life or become an influencer, we need to learn and prepare.
As we already know, the culture of life does not exist in a vacuum. It exists closely interrelated to each and every aspect of daily life. For example, it is related to how we eat and drink, how we make love, how we take care of our environment, how we consume products, how we travel, how we relate to one another, how we communicate and so on and so forth – all these and more need to be probed, learned and assimilated in the light of God’s will, God’s word, and the church´s teachings.
Formation for this unique ministry has two distinct phases, namely the phase of Internal Preparation and the phase of External Execution. Sometimes one follows the other and at other times they may run concurrently.
The Phase of Internal Preparation is vital to inform and equip us for this ministry. This phase has two steps.
In Step 1, we explore ourselves to discover what it is that we wish to impart. We begin by examining our understanding and knowledge about the various aspects of the culture of life. As mentioned earlier, a culture of life is a way of living. Once we identify the gaps in our understanding we should strive to educate ourselves on how to live as a witness to this culture.
The second step is to truly understand the vital role of authenticity and love in this ministry. This is the Petra – the foundational stone upon which the fruits of our ministry will depend. Here again we begin by self-examination. We become cognisant of our own personal strengths and failures. We then utilize this self- realisation to help us grow in compassion and empathy.
Self-righteousness is abhorrent to the Lord and should never be the fuel used for evangelisation. We need to humbly acknowledge and understand that our experience of the culture of life was gifted through grace to us. Our ministry to promote a culture of life, should stem from a deep love and empathy for our brother or sister who is our co-passenger in this journey called life.
The second phase of External Execution deals with the nitty gritty of the actual work – building a culture of life in today’s world. This has two parts.
In the first part we need to learn how to be an influencer, an apostle for life, in the real world that we live, work or study. We do this by witnessing the culture of life in our own personal lives. The love and grace that flows out from us should attract people to the living Gospel of Christ. It is within this context that we share, teach and encourage those around us to uphold the preciousness of life. We should not be afraid to share this culture with strangers and friends alike. We can use the power of words – spoken or written – to form opinion and mould consciences. But remember always to remain in love and never to fall into aggression or anger however much you may be provoked.
Secondly we look to harness the vast potential of the world wide web to help build a culture of life. Social media and all other avatars of digital media are ubiquitous today. But most often people of faith shy away from it. Even when they do engage, many do so with a narrow focus almost entirely centred on faith and religion. This is one of the greatest drawbacks that we face. In real life we interact with people with a diversity of thoughts, inclinations, and opinions. But in the virtual world many of us limit ourselves to a narrower scope of reference.
To be effective, we need to break out of our comfort zones and begin to engage with people and groups of varying ideologies, character and colour. We can use social media for professional work-related connections and hobbies or special interests-based connections alongside spirituality-based connections. Let your web of friends, connections and groups be as diverse as possible.
What happens then? Of course, you will come across perspectives and views which are contrary to a culture of life. Learn how to respectfully engage and share your experience and views without getting into heated debates. Show compassion, love, and empathy at all times. But respectfully continue to offer a different perspective. Use prudence. Sometimes little is more but be consistent and show integrity in all your social media posts and opinions by supporting the intrinsic goodness and value of man.
When we begin to stand for life, we are also standing for the dignity of nature and of mankind. Our generation stands in need of such a cultural revolution. The only question remaining is – Are you ready?
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