Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Zambian academic calls on those seeking to change the world to start with themselves

A Zambian academic has called on those seeking to change the world to start with themselves.

Addressing the 25th anniversary celebration of the Africa-Europe Faith and Justice Network at Westminster Hall, Martin Kalungu-Banda, Fellow at Future Considerations Oxford, told how growing up in Zambia he had one pair of shoes, a couple of shirts and little else. In the consumerist world, living in Britain he can have any number of shoes and shirts but he questioned whether he should whilst those in Zambia continue to grow up the way that he did.

“I should not buy my child that third or fourth toy, they are not needed,” said Mr Kalunga Banda, who stressed that if as Christians we start showing this example of more simple living it will effect the family and in time these same people can become the government ministers and business leaders of tomorrow. “Politicians and business leaders are not made of different stuff from ourselves,” said Mr Kalunga Banda.

The academic highlighted three divides in the world: ecological, social and spiritual. The ecological divide sees a world where 1.5 planets would be required to support the present lifestyles of the west for all. The social divide sees almost three billion people living on less than US$2 a day and not knowing where their next loaf is coming from. The spiritual divide means that three in 10 contemplate suicide at some time in life. “Whether we like it or not we are each others keeper because billions going to bed every day does not make for a safe world,” said Mr Kalunga Banda,

Jenny Brown, the senior European Union relations adviser at Christian Aid, told how much damage is being done worldwide by individuals and companies not paying their taxes. Developing countries lose US$160 billion a year in tax they are owed with half of world trade going through tax havens which enable lower payment of taxes,” said Ms Brown, who argued that tax improves the accountability of governments and is more reliable and sustainable than aid..

Ms Brown explained how things were changing for the better, with pressure for disclosure of more information on companies and moves to get rid of the secrecy of tax havens. She urged those present to lobby the Government to do more to stop tax dodging by British companies.

1 comment:

  1. “Politicians and business leaders are not made of different stuff from ourselves,” is a nice thought, but inadequate.It seems to me evident that many/most of these powerful people deliberately and specifically choose Mammon over God,and persist in the Thatcherite distortion that one can/must serve two masters simultaneously; they would not "succeed" as they have done if they acted on any other - dare I say it?- more Christian belief. The Good Samaritan could help only because he had the wherewithal.This subtle re-working of a parable tends to go unchallenged in this country, which is sliding into naked materialism with little resistance from the "moral leadership" of the churches and academia. The bitter contempt of large numbers of church-goers for "scroungers" is a fact of everyday observation A recent, excellent report by some non-conformist groups on how the poor are blamed by the media is , I suppose, not bedside reading for "our" Mr. I D-S .
    Sadly, however, he and his ilk use the "start with yourself" pitch to exculpate the rich and powerful.
    In so many ways, individual resistance to the constraints of post-modern living is becoming a futile gesture. Doing one's own simple-living thing is, in my view, individualistic in a possibly pharisaical way, if that is all one does.
    What is vitally needed is a collective defence of the poor , through a political party or parties. Naturally, we should all "live simply" - but the Church's campaign using this slogan has, I recall, picked up an Oxfam idea of c. 40 years ago. Too little, too late ?