Tuesday, January 3, 2012

When Arrogance Leaves You Looking Silly

Confidence is a wonderful thing, but sometimes when it slips over into arrogance we can be left looking rather silly. In recent years science has made huge advances in the understanding and prediction of weather and an understanding of the factors that seem to be impacting our changing climate. In 2011 the Australian Government made what many consider to be a wise and sensible decision to introduce a carbon tax, because the most well respected climate scientists are convinced that increasing carbon pollution is causing an increase in global temperatures. The carbon tax law was passed in November 2011. Long before it will be enacted the environment (at least in my part of Australia) seems to have reacted with fright, delivering us the coolest December temperatures in over 50 years. Of course there is no connection, but it is amusing that whenever we humans are convinced we know it all, we soon discover we have a lot more to learn.
After a long period of drought back in 2006, the water storage levels in the huge Sydney catchment were at record lows, approaching 30% of capacity. The State Government, faced with predictions of global warming and more drought, announced they would build Australia’s largest desalination plant, at a cost of about $2 billion. It seemed as though the day after the minister made the announcement that it started to rain, so now in 2012 we have a desalination plant producing a huge amount of fresh water that we don’t really need, because the dams are now over 80% full. Hindsight is a great thing but humility can help us overcome a great deal of pain.
Though never officially advertised as such, the Titanic’s popular reputation as the unsinkable ship did little to help the poor people who lost their lives, due not only to the ship sinking but also to the lack of provision of lifeboats. The 19th century dream of overcoming the tyranny of distance by land, sea and even sky were all realized with the development of trains and cars, diesel powered ships and eventually modern aviation. But then the 20th century also saw these incredible advances used to bring the greatest human losses ever inflicted, with over 50 million deaths in WW2, aided in considerable part by man’s mastery of land, sea and air.
In the Bible there is an ancient story about a group of guys determined to build the biggest skyscraper of their day in Babel and they called it a tower. Their desire was to reach the heavens and make a name for themselves, but all they achieved was confusion. We humans are always reaching for the sky, or trying to pass through the sky, or even trying to control the sky. Ambition with humility is all about realizing our God-given potential. Arrogance without reference to God at best leaves us with laughter and not infrequently with tears.
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.  Proverbs 11: 2

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