"Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?" (1 Peter 3:13 NIV)
Do you remember the Cold War? The super power of the United States of America struggled relentlessly against the super power of the Union of Soviet Socialists Republics that was perceived to be in pursuit of turning the entire world over to the rule of the Communist Party. The USA had its strong democratic, market economy allies during those decades and the USSR had its block of Communist countries leaning toward the doctrines of Marx and Lenin.
Both sides spent the money of future generations and developed the incredible destructive power of Nuclear Bombs as a threat that loomed constantly over the people of the world. Both sides competed fiercely in Olympic Games and made it all more interesting by each side accusing the other of cheating by using professional athletes and doping their players. In the West, we could not seem to get enough of those skinny little gymnasts and ice skaters that immigrated to America and became coaches and tutors after a time of stardom. Many talented ice hockey and basketball players with Slavic names also made their way to the life of professional sports.
On our most recent trip to Russia, we spent most of our time in the far north coal-mining region that is now defeated by market driven forces of the post-Soviet days. Coalmines that once operated around the year due to the concept that production is more important than demand, now sit idle as the demand for coal has given way to other more profitable carbon-based products.
The coalmining city where we spent our time looks like something from one of those old movies that show how it probably would look like after an atomic blast. Over the years since the collapse of the USSR, common thieves and the more sophisticated brief-case toting kind have stripped these assets of just about everything except the thick brick walls. In some cases, thieves even carry off what is left of huge factory buildings. What is left is the starkest and ugliest wasteland of industrial greed and corruption at all levels. Some benefactors of this corruption during the dying days of the Soviet Union now spend time in luxurious estates in England, Florida or the French Riviera. Russia is the nation that inherited the responsibility for all those Soviet nuclear weapons and corresponding ability to make a constant threat to any nation interested in messing with the sovereignty over its vast territories. Even though Russia seems to be losing population due to various demographic considerations, the country continues to loom as a strong bear in world affairs. This largest nation on earth in terms of territory controls much of the natural resources. This wealth brings new prosperity to certain groups of people with the right connections. There is also the trickle-down effect to many other consumers when the new super rich billionaires throw some of their money into the economy.
We arrived in Ukraine after our work in the Komi Republic of Russia. We came here to help a family member in a health crisis. We spend our nights in a house that is under the shadow of an old Soviet factory, which at one time had over 5,000 workers making electric transformers and piling them up in case somebody needed them. Employment was the key thing and demand was not a consideration. During the waning days of the Soviet Union, industrial cities like this began to crumble. Copper wires were stripped from utility poles even when the news constantly carried stories of deaths from such escapades. Complete inventories valuable merchandise stored in very large warehouses went empty and the bosses disappeared. The infrastructure in these neighborhoods is largely missing. Where there used to be paved streets, now there are huge potholes that drivers learn to navigate around. Where there used to be drainpipes in the city, now rainwater collects with the trash, dead animals and leaves.
When you experience all the effects of this waste and destruction, you naturally wonder who will rise to the challenge to start making repairs so that these educated and hard-working Ukrainian and other citizens can escape some of the daily gloom of living in the shadows of the old Cold War. It is almost laughable to hear long-winded political speeches about global environmental issues caused by human activities when people here are still living in conditions below standards following WW2. Who will answer the call to help replace all the destroyed infrastructure of the Soviet Union? Is it worth it? Who will pay for it?
During EC-101, some economics professors have used an adage designed to challenge new students to think outside the box. The story is told of how a rebel throws a rock at a store and breaks the large plate glass window. Some students may reason that this disaster is ultimately good for the community since the owner will now have to replace the glass. This unexpected need will result in a job and some money will be put into circulation that will help other people as the glass technician spends the money he earned off this job.
Other students may use alternative reasoning and correctly conclude that it is never beneficial for the common good if one person's glass window is broken. What if the price of the plate glass window was $1,200 and the storeowner had planned to go out that same day and spend $1,200 on a used car for his daughter who needed it to get to work on a new job. The retired schoolteacher had kept up the maintenance on an older Pontiac and it was in good running condition. She was no longer able to drive and needed money to help a grandchild with university tuition. Now that the glass window is broken, look at how many people will be disappointed and the so-called economic benefit that comes with destruction never outweighs the good that can be done. The storeowner will not be able to buy the car that he already promised for his granddaughter, and the retired schoolmarm will have to disappoint a beloved grandchild. And on and on it goes with that $1,200 that could have passed through many different hands.
Some of our finest frequently even make the outrageous conclusion from such an illustration as the broken window that war brings economic benefits. "Just look at all the jobs that are created!" they cry. If that is really the case, then communities should start major projects to blow things up and disassemble buildings and infrastructure just for the so-called economic benefits. Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be born again in order to inherit eternal life. This new life in Christ comes with challenges and opportunities to do good deeds without waiting around for some government program to ease our neighbors' suffering. What are we waiting for? Let's just do it! You are invited to attend the services of the Church of Christ at the corner of 3rd and E Streets. Please write me with any questions or comments. David Binkley, Sr., P.O. Box 186, Cedar Key, FL 32625 or E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you may also request to receive the daily WORD OF THE DAY by e-mail. Check out our web site at www.cedarkeychurchofchrist.com.