Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Complete Revolution

Talk of revolution has become a hot topic worldwide. You can hear it in the disaffected speeches of prophets of doom, conspiracy theorists and assorted opposition figures.

In fact, every political party's manifesto is revolutionary in tone and intent. "Vote for us and we will reinvent the wheel, everything will be perfect!" It seems to get us every time, even after the evidence repeatedly confirms that the joy of victory does not far outlive the celebrations, and whatever improvements follow are quickly taken for granted.

Generally the revolutionary's rhetoric promises heaven on earth. "If we uproot this order of things we will establish utopia." Catchphrases like "liberty, equality, fraternity," (or "human rights" of late), inflame the hearts of many. Rabble-rousers at the head of revolutions get people to believe that fighting for peace and tearing down for progress are logically sound ideas. Only one thing these people choose to overlook: their highfalutin ideals have been tried before. There is nothing new under the sun.

Our minds lack the capacity to appreciate what a complete revolution would look like. That must be why we are willing to lend a listening ear every pretender who promises paradise. We are so accustomed to difficulty and hardship that anyone who promises marginal improvements in health, happiness or life expectancy seems like a Godsend. Therefore marketers get away with peddling perishables as the solution to eternal bliss.

But the only complete revolution is one in which everything is perfect: there are no bad people, no bad outcomes, no "unforeseen circumstances"... we can not even picture it! A world in which everyone has everything they need, loves everybody else, nobody is hustling to make profits or take advantage of another, all can spend their time doing whatever it is they really want to do. Inconceivable! In which there are no dangers to defend against and nothing to be afraid of, thus, no padlocks, no fences (literal or social),  no CCTV,  no weapons, no prisons, no police, no armies, because there is no need for all these things. No deaths, no funerals, no tears, no pain. We have never seen such a thing, and can not begin to understand it, because nearly everything we have known our whole lives would be missing.

Yet GOD has promised just such a total revolution of this sin-wrecked existence we live in.

Revelation 21
{21:1} And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 
{21:2} And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 
{21:3} And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God [is] with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, [and be] their God. 
{21:4} And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 
{21:5} And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. 
{21:6} And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. 
{21:7} He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
{21:8} But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Football Parables

Before I got swallowed into the belly of the World Cup mania, I was concerned about reports of strikes in Brazil. Certain citizens were unhappy about the cost of hosting a World Cup while the state of healthcare and education were neglected. Promises of infrastructure and other community benefit couldn't mollify these discontents, and they seemed to be justified come D-Day. Eventually, after many protester-police face-offs, when the teargas cleared, the World Cup kicked off.

World Cup protest grafitti by Paul Ito. Image from

Come the semi-final and Brazil's national team was thrashed 7-1 by Germany. There were people crying in the stadium as it happened. I felt bad for Brazil as well, especially in the light of the protests that preceded the tournament. Probably the protestors had been shamed into quieting down their consciences and supporting their home country. They would certainly lose out on social infrastructure, but they could gain some national pride - if they won. The World Cup trophy could be some sort of consolation for all their troubles. But all the consolation they got was a consolation goal in the semi-final.

To my point: what gives sport the right to have such momentous consequences? "Sport" is supposed to be fun, entertainment. In my head it has connotations like "jest," and associations with "play." But it goes and becomes so costly, so tragic for the losers that you wonder. With millions of dollars spent for a gold trophy at stake, it looks like the sibling of gambling. Then it begins to make sense that the risk-reward prospects find willing takers.

I'm speaking from experience as well. My own Sunday League adventures in the district league featured a 4-0 loss just last week. We put in so much, all teams in the league, but the winner takes all. Cruel.

I would be remiss to neglect the massive profits to be reaped in the commercial side of the World Cup. Official sponsors market their products through such events. "Buy our product and pay for the World Cup!" (Not exactly in those terms of course.) But from the perspective of the average Brazilian citizen, the carnival roared into town and moved out with their school, road and hospital.