Census 2011: How much stuff?

South Africans are being counted.  Census 2011 is underway.  Jen and I completed the form on Saturday.  One set of questions asked whether we have various appliances in our home.  These include a television set, DVD player, refrigerator, microwave—about ten items.  We have them all.  I could not help thinking of the vast majority of South Africans who would be answeriing ‘No’ to all of those questions.  The next question asked whether we produce any agricultural products: livestock, fowls, vegetables, etc.  I had to confess that we do not produce any.  (I did ask Jen whether she thought her herbs would count; she thought not.)  The reality is that the majority of us who have most of the items in the first list probably answered “No” to the second.  Those who have none of the items on the first list, probably produce a good deal of those on second, at least for their own consumption. 

The truth is that I am a consumer.  I give little or nothing back; just money.

We were also asked whether we had running water in our home and I was reminded of my last post which dealt with the challenge posed by a young student for whom the greatest excitement of his aeroplane trip to the big city was having a hot shower.  It had been, for me, a sobering and challenging discovery.

It appears that it is not an isolated case.  A friend of mine has just returned from a conference in Johannesburg.  One of the speakers was a professor who had done a great deal of research into, and was well qualified to discuss, the socio-economic realities of life in South Africa.  She said that fifty percent of black South Africans measure success, and mark their climb up the social ladder, by whether or not they have running water and a geyser to provide hot water in their home.  When my friend read my post as it was published in The Witness, she was amazed to find a local example of such statistics; and I was equally amazed to find that the local example with which I had been presented was not an isolated case but a general reality.

The obvious question, that I fear to ask is, what difference will I allow it to make in my life?  What difference will we allow it to make in the life and witness of the local church?

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