Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Why I'm distressed at the collapse of Waterford Wedgwood

No, I'm not a shareholder.

Perhaps I should have been?

But then most of my shares are in the Company called Heaven (or the Kingdom of God) - which I trust I will see one day, thanks not to my shares but to the shares of someone who paid for me by his life.

So why am I distressed that the crystal-, porcelain-, glass- and china-producing company Waterford Wedgwood filed for bankruptcy yesterday?

Not only because it brings to an end a company history of some 250 years, but because it brings to an end a company with a glorious vision of human flourishing- producing, for example, the most famous and enduring image of the 18th century movement for the abolition of slavery - a kneeling African man in chains surrounded by an engraved motto: "Am I Not A Man and A Brother?"

Today we think of slavery merely as passè.

Slavery was, however, the material basis of every civilisation that human history had known till then. Slaves provided the energy needed to create and maintain life in all empires and kingdoms in all parts of the world up to that point.

To wish to abolish slavery at that time, was the same as wishing to abolish electricity now.

But William Wilberforce, Josiah Wedgwood and others dared to dream of a better world - and to work for it - so that succeeding generations have benefited.

We too can dare to dream and to work for a world better than we see around us.

Like our forebears, we can leave a world to our children and grandchildren that is better, or worse, than the world we see around us today.

The collapse of the company reminds us that all our works, however glorious or infamous, pass into history. However, that means that every generation has the opportunity to struggle afresh for ideal and values - however good or bad appears to be the situation in our surroundings. Sphere: Related Content

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