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Sinking and Swimming

2009 December 7
by Tim V-B

I’ve just been wandering around the BBC news website and came across a report, published today, from the Young Foundation.  As the BBC summarises it:

A report, Sinking and Swimming, published by the Young Foundation, looks at society’s “unmet needs”.

It warns that many families cannot provide support to help teenagers move successfully into adulthood.

It warns of a “brittle society, with many fractures and many people left behind”.

The report, backed by a group of 13 charities, argues that the services of the welfare state are no longer responding to the most pressing modern needs – which are now about social isolation and an absence of any functioning community support.

You’ll find the report (there’s a shorter summary article available) here.  Some very interesting statistics, such as the number of prescriptions for anti-depressant drugs increased from 9 million (1991) to 34 million (2007).  That says a lot about the health of a society.  For me, one of the most significant quotes is this one, which follows a description of the way the welfare system has managed to solve a lot of material problems…

Yet during this same period society’s ability to meet people’s psychological and psycho-social needs appears to have declined. The buffers of religion and family that helped people cope with setbacks have weakened. There has been a rise of individualism. A more overtly meritocratic society has encouraged people to be more ambitious for themselves, but also made them more vulnerable to failures – and more likely to blame themselves (rather than fate or the class system) if things go wrong. Some of the shock absorbers – from faith to family – that helped us cope in the past have atrophied.

This is what happens when a society turns away from the Lord.  Individualism rather than knowing who I am in the context of community (i.e. ignoring the Trinity).  And meritocracy (justification-by-works) that crushes those who fail.  How we need to preach Jesus’ gospel with more clarity and boldness!

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