What’s up with the people?

From Verena Fink, Thessaloniki, Greece, 03/10/2022

Listen to, or read along with Verena…

War in Ukraine, refugees all over the world, pushbacks everywhere in Europe, especially in my country, in Greece. The climate change became a serious climate crisis already years ago, plastic in the sea, in our food, in our bodies. People in Thessaloniki who don’t have enough to eat. Cyclists who die in the traffic because we don’t have bike lines, racists in more and more governments.

My reaction?

I need to react. To act. 

The reaction of so many people?

They are getting more and more apathetic.

We are running a social place, “we” that’s three people, and we can see during the last couple of years a loss of volunteers. A shrinkage of interest and of activities.

Up to there is no one anymore to whom we can rely on. Nobody.

What happened?

The answer is usually “a, that long lockdowns, we just want to have fun.”

Well. I can understand that. But these long lockdowns are already a while ago.

And it still doesn’t explain why on every level no one cares.

Some examples:

We organized the Global climate strike on 23th of September. The group of FFF Thessaloniki are let’s say 2,5 people. So we “cooperate” with them. Not even 50 people gathered, even less then the last time in April. 50 people in the second biggest city of Greece!

We had a festival, the biggest ecological festival in Greece, the 10th time this year – after a mandatory break, due to covid 19. This festival is run by volunteers every year and usually the young people are looking forward to it. I was organizing the volunteers of the festival – and if we wouldn’t have the group from abroad, we would not have managed to build and to dismantle the festival, nor to run the kitchen. So few locals came to help that it was a shame.

And then: People did not even come to join the festival. And the vendors at the different stands said that at the moment every festival is like that: Not many people.

What is up with the people?

Is it the economic problem that we are facing in Greece?

Is is at tiredness from the bad news?

It is apathy? 

The withdrawal to the family?

What’s up with the people?

I don’t know.

I just know that for me there is no option, that I have to respond to what I see in the world, in my country, in my city. 

I need to continue to fight for those in needs, to do whatever I can do again the climate crisis, to continue to inspire and empower people and to feed them with optimism that lacks so much in Greece. 

For good reasons.

But I think my reasons are also good to continue.

As I got this prayer from Australia a day when I was very tired, I bring it now back to Australia. From Greece with love.

A Prayer for the Tired , Angry Ones

God, We’re so tired. 

We want to do justice, but work feels endless, and the results look so small in our exhausted hands. 

We want to love mercy, but our enemies are relentless, and it feels like foolishness to prioritize gentleness in this unbelievably cruel world. 

We want to walk humbly, but self-promotion is seductive, and we are afraid that if we don’t look after ourselves, no one else will. 

We want to be kind, but our anger feels insatiable. 

Jesus, in this never-ending wilderness, come to us and grant us grace. 

Grant us the courage to keep showing up to impossible battles, trusting that it is our commitment to faithfulness, and not our obsession with results that will bring Your shalom. 

Grant us the vulnerability to risk loving our difficult and complicated neighbor, rejecting the lie that some people are made more in the image of God than others.

Grant us the humility of a decentered but Beloved self. 

As we continue to take the single step that is in front of us, keep us from becoming what we are called to transform. 

Protect us from using the empire’s violence – for Your kingdom of peace. 

Keep our anger from becoming meanness. Keep our sorrow from collapsing into self-pity. 

Keep our hearts soft enough to keep breaking. 

Keep our outrage turned toward justice, not cruelty. Remind us that all of this, every bit of it, is for love. 

Keep us fiercely kind. 


Source: Laura Jean Truman, in “A Rythm of Prayer: A Collection of Meditations for Renewal” edited by Sarah Bessey

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