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The earth is broken up, the earth is split asunder, the earth is violently shaken. The earth reels like a drunkard, it sways like a hut in the wind; so heavy upon it is the guilt of its rebellion that it falls – never to rise again.
- Isa. 24: 19, 20 (NIV-UK) -
IN LITTLE MORE than a generation the global order has undergone changes unique in history. These began after the Second World War (1939-45). On the geopolitical front, a shake-up of the major powers – which had begun before 1939 – generated tensions which would upend the world in subsequent decades. Britain's decline as the first-tier power, hinted at around the time of the First World War, now appeared in stark contrast to the rising star of the United States. With its physical infrastructure and mercantile system intact, the U.S. emerged as the principle hub around which other democracies clustered for protection against Soviet Russia (U.S.S.R.).
Continental Europe, much of it destroyed and impoverished by seven years of warfare, was distilled into two mutually antagonistic blocs, East and West – political polar opposites. From the 1950s onwards the free nations of Western Europe shifted toward political, commercial and monetary union – encouraged by the United States – partly to fend off the possibility of another world war. The military and economic heft of the United States made that nation a more influential power in Europe than any European nation, and the Continent became the front line defence for America against the Soviet alliance (Warsaw Pact).
Such developments led to various countermeasures, including on the part of the West the creation of the U.S.-dominated North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and deep collaboration among the Atlantic powers in all matters ideological, diplomatic, political, economic and military – such as the sharing of intelligence ('Five Eyes'), cooperation in monetary policy (the IMF, World Bank), deployments of American, British, Canadian and French forces in a vanquished Germany, and so forth.
In other theatres the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. waged proxy or ʻdominoʼ wars through their respective allies, the Chinese throwing the occasional inscrutable spanner into the works. On the watch of President Gorbachev, the Soviet leader, the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, bringing a technical end to the Cold War. Since then, terrorism by state and non-state actors has been on the rise, forcing former enemies into new alliances and covert operations, and the eruption of territorial conflicts around the globe. Now the rapid economic, political, and military ascent of China has added further twists to this continuing saga.
At the grass roots level, another revolution – or, rather, series of revolutions – got under way in the 1950s and '60s. This was the age of the protests, many of them sprouting from fears and anxieties triggered by the spread of nuclear weapons. The sight of thousands of marchers in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) snaking through the major cities of Britain, Europe and North America sent chills of apprehension throughout a world hoping for a bit of peace and quiet.
Innovations in music (rock ʻnʼ roll from America, Elvis Presley, The Beatles and others) and the rise of a youth culture with money to spend caused a shift away from the traditional family structure to more flexible expressions of personal freedom, driving a wedge into the domestic circle.
Relatively easy access to birth control and abortion encouraged sexual promiscuity and the consequent decay of marriage. Scandalous practices were nothing new: what had changed was the scale and widespread acceptance of them. These influences changed the face of Western societies, then hitched a ride on expanding ʻconsumerismʼ and fanned out across the globe, as societies became more economically prosperous, spearheaded by American culture and commercial vitality.
Closer to home, the more perverse aspects of these revolutions on Britain can be seen in the swapping of a Christian-inspired culture for a secular one. A prudent government ought to prize the integrity which Christians bring to the home and the workplace. The ideal citizen is one motivated by a desire to do good to all and to obey the laws of the land. In endeavouring to do the will of Christ, the Christian citizen – and the Christian family – promotes the well-being of the whole nation.
The dogmas of atheism, human evolution, and aberrant sexual rights – all effects of a root cause – will eventually coalesce into a secular orthodoxy, to which all are increasingly expected to render lip-service or allegiance, under threat of derision, humiliation, and sometimes prosecution. Faced with such penalties, few will risk standing up when everyone else is kneeling down. These developments will make the dedicated Christians stick out like warts on the fabric of society – similar to the status they occupied in the days of the early Church.
The exhortation of the Apostle Paul to the Church in his day applies with renewed force in our own, that we should be
blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life . . . – Phil. 2: 15, 16
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