A world to win

The text below is from the book “Born a stranger” from the Dutch theologist Huub Oosterhuis.

He says:

“It was the winter of 1968, a cold night, around 9.00 pm. A boy, 14 years old, stood near the water (IJ) in Amsterdam. His father had disappeared a long time ago, his mother used to beat him hard all the time. He was standing there, thinking, I can just jump and then it is over (he couldn’t swim). He was wondering why he didn’t do it. And just then a friend passed by on his bike and asked what he was doing there, he went home with that friend, to his friendly parents. And this man is still alive now, of which he is surprised himself, and he has 5 children.”

Huub Oosterhuis is a theologist for the poor, the strangers, the sick, the vulnerable, the oppressed, people who are suffering, people who need help, and the people with good intentions, who try their best to be good, that’s their nature, who don’t want to do unnecessary harm to others, who want to help others.

He cares for people like them, with their very hard lives, he tries to give them hope.

He says:

“The Bible is full of this kind of stories. And many of us have this boy inside of us, who almost decided to jump, but for some reason, hesitated a moment.

You wake up from a narcosis. You see that this life is no life. You try to want a new life. You have stopped believing that a new life is impossible, you no longer believe that you are doomed to fail and to sink down deeper in the swamps of frustration and regret. You remember something of a different life, maybe the moment just before the first time you were beaten up, a memory of how it felt not to have been beaten, which gives you a desire that the beating will never happen again. You still remember how things are meant to be. You should not be all alone and hopeless, there should be others who care, there should be that little friend on his bike coming to save you, coming as if he had been called for.

That change-over from no life to a new life is one of the rare moments of complete fairness, no illusions, no lies, to completely face the truth; there is nothing left to loose, nothing than your chains which keep you stuck to the ground, the stone in your mouth, the blind anger in your head. You have to break free. Nothing left to loose, and everything to win, a future to win, a world to win.

That is something to believe in, that there is a world for us to win. A task which isn’t easy, to dig out the land from the sea, to reveal a face behind a mask (your own face?), to climb a mountain, not knowing where you should go, to find a travel companion, to find a language to share each others fears and discoveries. That is what is meant by “a world to win”. According to the Bible, belief is a matter of trust and determination. Belief means to give to others no matter what will come in return. You should be willing to let go of all certainties, because who convulsively tries to grasp and control his life will loose it all. You are there for the people who need you, you are “around”, your eyes and ears are open for the other, you pass by, and it happens a lot that you come as if you were called for. In that way you are part of this incredibly big love. If you believe, nothing is impossible – with the help of God.

Throughout history you can see a red line of the people who believed that a better world is possible, and tried their best to move towards this new world, every day. To believe means to go away, to break away, to become a non-believer, to stop believing that a better life is impossible.

God says to Abraham: “You should go, out of your land, away from your clan, out of the house of your father, to a land which I will show you.” To a place which I have put in your heart, in your mind, in your conscience. I did this so you will know what you are searching for and so you will know where you should go. He who doesn’t know what he is looking for, cannot go. Who doesn’t have that intuition / wisdom in his heart, cannot go. There is a world to win, to go to the good land, to the city of peace, to the holy mountains, where people are good to each other, as it is in heaven."

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