BBC Radio Humberside – New Year’s Day
Well I wish you a very happy New Year . But, having said that I realise that we start 2011 with many problems before us – the weather, the economy and those myriad of personal issues which can so weigh us down. So what does it need for us to be happy in this New Year? Oscar Wildle that great manufacturer of sharp quotations observed that “Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go”
But I am much more drawn to the anonymous observation that “Happiness is not the absence of problems but the ability to deal with them.”, because unless that’s true, then we are doomed to unhappiness, because throughout my life I have never known a time when there haven’t been problems to deal with and I suspect that’s true for all of us. Indeed it is the problems which give life a texture and responding to them can bring out some of our best qualities.
There was a fashion for imagining a world which was problem free, one of the most famous versions was a book by Sir Thomas More written some 500 years ago which he called Utopia – a fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean where there was no poverty or misery and all lived in harmony. As we grapple with the recession, unemployment and all that comes with them, Utopia sounds a good place to be. Of course the story of Utopia echoes the story of the Garden of Eden at the beginning of the Bible, where God places Adam and Eve in a paradise where there were no problems. An experience of harmony and peace which they can enjoy as long as they used their freedom of choice responsibly.
The story goes on that once Adam and Eve misused their freedom of choice, then paradise became an impossible place for them, because paradise requires a depth of responsibility which enables harmony to exist. But as we look over human history and read our headlines today, it is clear that such a depth of responsibility seems beyond our capacity to achieve. The distinctiveness of Jesus is not really so much about him being ‘good’, but about the depth of responsibility which he lived out – to such an extent, that those who met him had the experienced that something of paradise had come close to them.
In wishing you a happy new year, I am not offering a meaningless phrase, but a hope that we will each find the ability to deal with the problems and concerns which lie ahead, whilst at the same time discovering an inner sense of responsibility in the way in which we make our choices, so that something of paradise is found within us to enrich our lives in 2011. So I do wish you a very happy new year…….