I love watching the BBC TV’s Countryfile programme. It has such a varied menu of all things rural. But I was truly amazed by a comment made a few weeks ago when they were reporting on a nature reserve.
The details don’t matter but what the warden in charge said was that they were rolling out a strategy that would take two hundred years to complete. This blew my mind!
We live in such a transient society. Everything has to be instant. If our phones or computers have even a few moments delay our frustration levels start rising. We take instant connectivity anywhere and at any time so much for granted now.
We also have to live with accelerating obsolescence. Manufactured products and technology change so fast. Many items cannot be repaired because the parts are so quickly obsolete and so get replaced with the latest technological development. The old simply gets thrown away.
The demand for instant satisfaction bubbles over into our behaviour with one another as well. On the roads woe betide anyone who dares to be slower than the person behind, or who dares to be even slightly slower pulling onto a roundabout than the maniac hurtling around as if in a race! Gaps are a challenge to see who can get through first!
The amazing thing about this nature reserve’s strategy is that those who are working hard to implement the programme of replanting and reshaping the environment will be long dead when it achieves its aim. It really does show a certain altruistic streak that all that you are doing will benefit people who haven’t even been born yet.
It reminds me somewhat of the Moravian Church which embarked on a ministry of prayer in 1727. They committed themselves to praying round the clock and it caught on to such a degree that they sustained this prayer for 100 years! That is commitment! It is also amazing that sometimes prayers prayed in one generation are not answered until another generation has come. I have met many who struggle when God doesn’t answer prayer instantly. God also takes the long view!
We would do well to learn lessons from these long perspectives. The environment is buckling under hundreds of years of industrialisation. If we are to turn things around it will take long and sustained commitment to try and redeem the damage, long beyond our lifetimes. But so too the moral foundations we lay in our society today will impact the generations to come. We need to learn to take the long view if we are to leave anything of value for those who follow.