Epäilevä Tuomas

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Ensi sunnuntaina äänestetään seurakuntavaaleissa. Siis äänestävät ne noin 10 prosenttia Suomen evankelisluterilaiseen kirkkoon kuuluvista (joita on noin 85 prosenttia väestöstä) joita asia jotenkin liikuttaa.

Pitäisikö liikuttaa? Hyvä kysymys, katsotaanpa. Olen kirkon jäsen siis kasteestani saakka, käynyt rippikoulun ja saanut kunnian tulla kummiksi kahdesti. Kirkossa käyntini eivät taida liittyä edes jouluun, vaan ovat todellakin satunnaisia. Miksi ylipäänsä olen kirkon jäsen? Taloudellisesti katsoen olen kyllä aika paljon saamapuolella, koska kirkon palveluja en ole tullut paljoa toistaiseksi käyttäneeksi.

Omalta osaltani kyse on ehkä perinteestä ja suomalaisesta traditiosta. Jossain kyynisen ja epäilevän nykyajan ihmisen mielen perukoilla taidan myös uskoa johonkin korkeampaan voimaan, Jumalaan. Muutenhan olisin jo eronnut kirkosta kauan sitten, eikö?

Olen tätä asiaa miettinyt kahdesti viimeisen kahden vuoden aikana. Miksi kuulun kirkkoon? Uskonko jumalaan? Ensimmäisen kerran mietin tätä nykyiseen työpaikkaani hakiessa. Mietin, voinko tehdä töitä Kirkon Ulkomaanavussa. Onko minun jotenkin kompromissattava työperiaatteeni, saarnattava jumalan sanaa kehitysmaan köyhille vaikka he oikeasti tarvitsisivat apua ja rukoiltava päivittäin osana työtehtäviäni? Vastaus kaikkiin kysymyksiin on ollut kieltävä. Työssämme teemme diakoniaa, joka on teologista jargonia ja tarkoittaa palvelutyötä (kehitysyhteistyön muodossa), eikä kukaan pakota minua osallistumaan hartauksiin tai olemaan erityisen pyhä ja harras ihminen työaikanani eikä muutoinkaan.

Toisen kerran mietin asiaa vielä tarkemmin kesällä, jolloin olin myöntymässä mukaan seurakuntavaaliehdokkaaksi. Mietin, että onko minun oltava jotenkin muita parempi ihminen, käytävä kirkossa viikottain ja muutenkin puhua raamatullisin sanankääntein. Loppujen lopuksi päätin, että hartauteni aste on aivan tarpeeksi korkea ja teen nk. hyviä töitä ja osoitan lähimmäisen rakkautta omalla tavallani, ja se varmasti riittää Jumalallekin. Sitäpaitsi seurakuntien hallinnoimisessa tarvitaan myös muuta kuin rukousta ja veisuuta, ja tätä muuta minulla varmasti on tarjota.

Nyt täytyy tunnustaa. Olen ajatellut näitä uskonasioita kolmannenkin kerran kahden vuoden sisällä. Se oli pari vuotta sitten, kun olin tulossa Euroopasta kotiin Rostock-Hanko autolautalla juuri ennen joulua, ja Itämerelle iski raivokas talvimyrsky. Autolautta ei päässytkään Hangon satamaan vaan keinui tuntikausia, läpi koko yön pilkkopimeällä ja jäätävällä merellä. Vietin koko yön valveilla hytissäni edestakaisin kallistelevalla laivalla, seurana vain koirani. Tai, ainakin näkyvänä seuranani. Tein nimittäin myös erinäisiä lupauksia yläkerran suuntaan, jos vain laiva pääsisi turvallisesti satamaan.

7.11.2006

5 thoughts on “Epäilevä Tuomas

    Finnpundit said:
    9.11.2006 03:20

    Miksi kuulun kirkkoon? Uskonko jumalaan? Ensimmäisen kerran mietin tätä nykyiseen työpaikkaani hakiessa. Mietin, voinko tehdä töitä Kirkon Ulkomaanavussa. Onko minun jotenkin kompromissattava työperiaatteeni, saarnattava jumalan sanaa kehitysmaan köyhille vaikka he oikeasti tarvitsisivat apua ja rukoiltava päivittäin osana työtehtäviäni?

    I’ve always felt that Nordic Christians who think developing nations need their aid are really motivated by their own vain self-absorbing questions of self-worth. Pardon me, but your blog entry speaks volumes on exactly that.

    Here’s some food for thought, from Spiegel (not one of my favorite news sources):

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/spiegel/0,1518,363663,00.html

    Nina responded:
    9.11.2006 17:51

    Dear Finnpundit,
    Clearly the main point of my blog entry went unnoticed by you. The entry was first of all about wondering in general why me or 85% of the Finns belong to the Finnish church. If you had properly understood the language, you might have realised that I am wondering myself whether to believe or not.

    Secondly, had you fully understood the language or irony, you would have realised that I strongly disagree with force-feeding religion as a side product to aid. You might also have been able to read, that the fact that my organisation is linked with the Church was for me one reason to carefully consider whether to work with them or not. However, I realised that even if Christian values are behind that work, the work itself sets no value on people’s believes. Actually, I am writing this in Dhaka, Bangladesh where our local partner – that is locally-based, locally-founded, locally-run Bangladeshi organisation helping their own people for example through among other things microcredit schemes – works with local Bangladeshi people, 88% of which are Muslims, 10% Hindu and less than 0.3% Christians. Thus, your accusation that my actions are motivated by religion have no base on reality whatsoever (actually they are straight-forward rubbish).

    The Spiegel article, with declarations by a well-to-do Kenyan economist along the lines that ’the poor should be left to die, in the long run the development will go forward’ is nothing new in assistance discussion. This type of populistic criticism has been heard before. Absolutely, there has been portions of development aid that has gone to waste and of course those countries have had their fair share of dictators. And aid can have other serious problems if it is just taking the form of throwing money on whoever is in power, shipping second hand clothes to Africa, sending food that has passed its expiry date, using aid as a tool for geopolitical interests, or spending money on activities that are run only by foreigners, and not locals.

    But to refer today to the far-gone Bokassa shows that this economist has not quite updated his claims. Also, he might not see Aids patients dying by hundreds in the streets of Nairobi, but they surely are doing so in Uganda, even if the government has managed to take some action in the recent years. (”Since the confirmation of the first AIDS case in Uganda in 1986, it is estimated that more than 2 million Ugandans have been infected with the HIV virus. Of these, 800,000 people have died, leaving 1 million children orphaned. … By the end of 2001, adult prevalence had fallen to 5 percent from 8 percent in 1999.” World Bank)

    It is much too easy to state ’all development aid is going to waste’ without seemingly knowing or understanding what is done with much of the funds. Of course, discussion on aids effectiveness is something that has to be done consistently and continuously, but populistic and distorted claims by the well-to-do and educated as our friend in the Spiegel are not really helping anyone.

    Finnpundit said:
    10.11.2006 17:29

    Hmmm? Did I refer to the main point of your blog entry? No, I referred only to the point that I was interested in. And, furthermore, it’s clearly you who’ve misunderstood my point, as I did not address your struggles with faith at all:

    vaikka he oikeasti tarvitsisivat apua

    is the key assumption that I dispute. And your subsequent, spurious attacks on the economist point exactly to some presumptions about the moral necessity of aid that are clearly the function of Nordic and Lutheran cultural arrogance.

    The economist made several good arguments for the cessation of western aid. Doubtlessly this would enrage people who find life-fulfillment in giving aid, but the main point is to try to figure out how to help the poor (which the economist is clearly interested in, despite your attempts to smear him).

    We have seen hundreds of billions of foreign aid over several decades go to developing nations, yet they still seem to be mired in poverty. Perhaps we should begin to see that aid can often be the problem, in exactly the way the economist described? We have clear proof, in China for example, that when trade barriers are dropped, hundreds of millions of people can be lifted out of poverty. If European and Americans alike are really bent on helping the poor, the first thing they should do is drop agricultural trade barriers (something Finland is loathe to do, in tandem with France, et. al.) The successful conclusion of the Doha Round of talks would have done much more good than any of the damaging aid programs distorting economic development of poor countries the world over.

    Finnpundit said:
    10.11.2006 17:30

    P.S. I didn’t intend to come across as hostile, though I do enjoy strong, vigorous debate. I actually like your blog very much.

    Nina responded:
    11.11.2006 15:00

    I agree with you about the trade issue. Western agricultural policies do harm developing countries, when products produced with state subsidies are dumped on their markets, cheaper than the local producers manage to produce them. Yes, also opening Western markets for imports from theee countries help, except that most – I think even all, if I am not mistaken – industrial products from the ACP countries (AFrica, Caribian, Pacific) can already be brought to EU without entry taxes (this is a concession made by the EU).

    Problem is that most of developing countries do not have much to produce that would be bought over here – who has ever heard of some productes from Mali, Malawi, Ruanda, Burundi… or seen them anywhere on our shelves? Raw materials are of course exported whenever they exist, which do not bring much income in the country itself as the further refining is done by foreign or multinational corporations. Agricultural products are not imported much either to Europe, and yes, more of them definitely could be. For example fruits, tea, coffee, etc, but refined in these countries.

    I think on trade we, the West, and the region itself, for example Africa, could start focusing much more on trade within the region. This is of course one thing that has made Europe properous, free trade within EU itself. And, I think some of the developing effort the West is doing should go into assisting local production, identifying of markets, finding marketable products, creating markets links, building local capacity to produce.

    OK, I admit, I probably misunderstood the main point in your entry. And I also admit, that the sentence you refer to in my previous text sounds a bit biblical… 😉 (Maybe I have stayed in my present job far too long, the theological argumentation is creeping in my vocabulary!)
    😉

    But I do still stick to my words that the Kenyan economist is using populist arguments about aid, of which there of course do exist some examples, we all know that. But, corruption? yes, if exists if we do not work to avoid it both there and in our own countries. Misuse of funds? Yes, probably that has happened, but I almost loathe more those tens of thousands of Finns that have got it all, and have thrown it all away, and who are waiting the state to keep paying for their daily consumption for the rest of their lives without taken a step to get a job.

    Finally, I find my life-fulfillment in many things, not just ’giving aid’. Once again (and I refer to the Finnish working in the original entry which I assume was the sentence you so much disliked…and I admit is not the best way to describe what I believe in), even the concept of ’giving aid’ is totally patronising! Development assistance should rather be about enabling, helping to build or assisting locals in creating something sustainable (even though hard-core critics do not probably accept that either…).

    I personally do struggle often with the questions you raised, whether there is any point with aid and what kind it should be. However, I have not figured any better way to deal with these difficult issues yet nor do I believe our Kenyan friend has…

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