Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Thought for the Day

As delivered at BBC Radio Bristol earlier on, the day the Commonwealth Games are due to open in Glasgow:

Do you ever realise that you've used a word for ages and never noticed what it meant?

The word of the day is Commonwealth. Funny word. Having wealth in common. As the Games continues we will say it lots. According to the 1949 Charter, the Commonwealth stands for free and equal voluntary co-operation.

Common wealth is a very biblical idea. In the early church the first Christians were described as people who 'had everything in common'. The Bible goes on to say that no-one considered any possession their own but shared everything they had. It's a long journey from there to a street like mine where everyone has an electric lawn-mower and keeps it locked in the garage on the thirteen days a fortnight it is not in use.

I'm a realist. I do not imagine a suburban utopia of shared grass-cutting apparatus is just around the corner.

There are bits about our commonwealth history of which I am not proud. Many of the commonwealth countries were invaded or conquered, the places slaves were sought or bad people sent. But the current Commonwealth of nations includes members, such as the most recent two, Rwanda and Mozambique, who were never part of the British Empire.

As we observe the games over the next days we will see winners and losers. But the big picture is to see co-operative competition. It is called the friendly games because, for the nations involved, that is the starting point.

If the only time we use the word commonwealth is where we try to beat each other at competitive sport we may have missed something. But if we were to get better at sharing the wealth. Well that's a thought isn't it?

1 comment:

Stephen Parker said...

In the mid 1970's I was a part of a Church that met in someone's home. I felt challenged to withdraw all my savings from a Building Society account. I was thinking of those New Testament followers of Jesus who shared everything they had - not just lawn-mowers. However the Treasurer felt unable to take me up on my offer. I have never tried to do anything like that again. Maybe that is to the Church's loss.