An idea whose time has come 

Victor Hugo once wrote, ‘Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come.’ I recalled this saying when reflecting on the problems faced by the Chinhoyi Rural Training Centre (CRTC) in Zimbabwe founded in 1979 just as hostilities ceased.

Source: An idea whose time has come – The Zimbabwean

By that year, young people in the rural areas of Zvimba, Hurungwe, Magondi and even further afield, finding themselves caught between the demands of the guerrillas, the government and the auxiliary forces of Muzorewa and Sithole, ran away to the urban centres and loitered about doing nothing.

Concerned people in the church and state set about responding to the need by assembling machines and tools from abandoned missions and employing instructors to run a course in agriculture and farm machinery which later morphed into a three-year course of training in metal work, woodwork and machine tools leading to trade tests that qualified the students for skilled work. But Jesuit Brother Hubert Simon, who worked intensely to build up the centre, had to admit towards the end of his time (2008) that a confluence of forces was destroying the work.

With the deteriorating economic situation, the crime rate noticeably on the increase – especially thefts and break-ins -, the daily long-lasting power-cuts, the negligence in respect to maintenance of the workshop machines and tools, the lack of care in handling tools, the failure to feel responsible for general order and guarding against injury … what I often find lacking are these basic yet essential qualities for anyone wanting to learn a trade … we don’t seem to make much progress … I find it rather disappointing…

This description of one project in one corner of the country is mirrored in many others. In 1980, all the conditions seemed to be there for economic and social ‘take-off’ but something vital was missing; the will to make things work. Why it was not there could be a long debate or a short surmise. If the latter, then we can simply say; it was a great idea but its time had not yet come. We go back to Pope Francis’ adage; ‘Time is greater than space.’

At CRTC they had the space and the tools but not the time. Goethe once said, ‘All truly wise thoughts have been thought already thousands of times, but to make them truly ours we must think then over again honestly, till they take root in our personal experience.’ Ideas, strategic plans, policies and slogans are so much hot air unless they are thought through, affirmed anew and absorbed into our being. Otherwise, ten years from now, we will still be nowhere.

11 July 2021   Sunday 15B                Amos 7:12-15             Eph 1:3-14      Mark 6:7-13

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