After the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Hong Kong-based Anglican writer Alice Wu asks what approach the Church should take to global social problems.
As the world’s elite gathered at Davos in Switzerland to discuss Globalisation 4.0, I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of world we have become. This year the annual retreat, exclusive to the world’s richest and most powerful, seems to confirm what we already know: that we have become worse off, nations are not playing by the rules, inequality has brought on the rise of protectionism, new fault lines have been drawn, worsening international relations are exacerbating problems and, as if these don’t make enough reason for all to be nervous, the world has failed to tackle climate change and extreme weather events.
The world is on the verge of a nervous meltdown. The building of walls is being sold as the solution to social ills. World leaders have been busy playing “chicken” while problems continue to fester, and lives of the most vulnerable have become increasingly unbearable. In short, the world is increasingly Hobbesian – and life is increasingly solitary, poor, nasty, and brutish. Just look at how World Economic Forum participants share their growing concerns over climate change as they fly in and out by private jets.
Today, we live in a topsy-turvy world where economic development has widened the wealth gap, where education is not a ticket out of poverty, and technology that has connected the world has disconnected its inhabitants.
It seems necessary that we reflect on how we, too, may have adopted these same “protectionistic” attitudes. Have we been complicit? Have we built walls as a way to disconnect ourselves from the plight of others?
But instead of being crippled by despair, I take comfort in knowing that while others may be boarding their private jets, the Church has just concluded this year’s week of Prayer for Christian Unity, having joined together in “united prayer in a fractured world,” and in recognising that “we are called together to form a united witness for justice and to be a means of Christ’s healing grace for the brokenness of the world.”
I pray that we will respond to the call “to move from shared prayer to shared action.” There is a lot of work to be done.