“Where have all the flowers gone…?” (Impromptu background and history – Pete Seeger)
Zechariah in today’s first reading has a clear message to people in all four corners of the round earth today. Too many earthly rulers of today, whose outlook is distorted by power, influence and fawning subordinates, cannot take up the challenge of being humble and caring. They do not look to the needs of their subjects.
St. Paul’s letter to the Romans delivers the same message as Zechariah. Allow the Redeemer to set the standard of love and consideration for others around us. The message is hidden from the wise, but revealed to those who have the insights of little ones.
But in everyday life, we know what corruption can bring about in rulers whose outlooks have been skewed by their characteristics of greed and mistrust.
Richer nations should help, not exploit, economically depressed nations. NAFTA – North American Federal Trade Agreement - favors the U.S. economy which reaps benefits as it stifles growth in poorer nations. So why does the US have the influx of younger children across its borders who come primarily from countries south of the USA? The poor farmers and workers cannot earn enough to maintain an acceptable level of living. So, they try to enter countries where a decent mode of life beckons, but too often ends with disastrous results. Why do children come alone? As they say, and as we read and hear, to escape from horrendous crimes committed against them in their countries of origin.
Richer economies send cheaper–to-produce food and goods to African nations. The locals cannot compete and cannot maintain an acceptable standard of living. So people from many countries in Africa try to get into Europe by crossing the Mediterranean Sea with many disastrous results.
All of us individually are daily reminded to examine our consciences relative to our treatment of the earth around us. If we can’t be actively involved, to what extent do we donate to causes, whether financially or otherwise? Should Judith and I as residents of Germany no longer fly here for the summer in order to cut down on carbon production? Or do we travel on an ocean liner which has an even greater negative effect on the environment? A third option is to travel no more. We don’t own a car in Duesseldorf, but we need one on the Lake Michigan shore. And even more, how do we individually support activities in our country here which has such a skewed production and allowance for arms of all kinds. Pax Christi and Amnesty International are among such organizations trying to bring about a healthier environment for our own citizens as well as those elsewhere in the world.The newest bishop in the Presbyterian Church in Sweden is a woman. One of her main programs is supporting the health of our environment. But the country itself is the third largest producer per capita of military arms for sale.
In the gospel, Jesus lets us know where we can find peace of soul and mind in the world. Are we and our nation up the challenge Jesus so strongly lays out for us? Pete Seeger asks further in his song, “Where have all the young girls, … the husbands, … the soldiers, …, the graveyards, … and finally, again, the flowers … When will they, and we, ever learn?” AMEN!