25 Years Of Change In World Affairs
The world has seen many changes in the last 25 years. A few days I did a survey of some of the major changes in world politics.
The Wesley Christian Fellowship (formerly Christian Climbers) was created about three decades ago by Win Walker, wife of the then Superintendent of the Mission. In more recent years, the fellowship group has been convened by Ben and Merle Smith.
I first spoke at the fellowship group 25 years ago. Ben and Merle Smith are now stepping down from their role and so a few days ago at a meeting of the Wesley Christian Fellowship I reviewed what had been happening in the last 25 years in world affairs.
25 years ago, the Cold War was the central defining event of the post-War period. This gave rise to "Three" Worlds. The First World was led by the US (and included Australia). The Second World was led by the Soviet Union. The Third World were countries that did not want to get involved in the power struggle between the US and Soviet Union.
There were also both a fear of communism and a fear of a nuclear war. The fear of communism has now gone and the few remaining countries that are communist are on their way to capitalism, notably China. Similarly, the United States and Russia are now slowly reducing their nuclear stockpiles.
The new Post-Cold War era has presented fresh problems. The best organized section in Russian life is organized crime: the Russian Mafia. It is only a matter of time before they get into the business of selling nuclear weapons - they seem to sell most other items.
There is also the question of what will happen to the Third World now that the Second World is joining the First World? The Third World no longer has two other "worlds" between which to be neutral.
Another change has been the rise of the importance of economics in world politics. Power no longer seems to come from the barrel of a gun - but from a chequebook. This change has been due to the rise of transnational corporations, such as in the banking, oil, car and fast food industries.
Yet another change has been the increased concern about what economic growth is doing to the environment. Indeed only this week there has been a UN conference on sustainable development in South Africa.
But some things remain the same. For example, in Israel and the Middle East generally, there is still no peace. As Jesus said 2,000 years ago "there will always be war and rumours of war".
The important thing is to remain informed about world affairs. There remains a need for an informed general public. People should not just rely on television as a way of learning about the world. Fellowship groups are a way of exchanging information.
Meanwhile, live as though you could die tomorrow and learn as though you will live forever. Therefore, keep your affairs in order - but always have an open and inquiring mind. There are no limits to learning.
Keith Suter Consultant for Social Policy
Broadcast On Friday 30th August 2002 On Radio 2GB's "Brian Wilshire Programme" At 9pm.