Can’t they just say what they mean? Can you? Language, after all, is not just about points and meanings. It is a medium of communication, yes, but also of avoidance, misdirection, self-protection and plain confusion…
Craig Malkin explains the confusion of a narcissist’s drama with a lover’s passion simply and clearly from a psychological point of view which is to say, as he does, “Romantic uncertainty often turns us on.” (If you doubt it, just watch a re-run of Sex and The City and watch the chemistry between Mr. Big and Carrie.) His point is that we get aroused by feelings of jealousy, anger, and anxiety—and it may not, from a physical point of view, feel all that different from the arousal of passion. (Mind you, this is emotional arousal, not the sexual kind.)
It’s unclear when dependence became a dirty word and the idea of a perfect relationship became two self-sufficent planets circling each other. As the work of Brooke Feeney makes clear, when people are securely attached, dependence on another person actually increases their independence and ability to expand and grow. Dependence can be healthy instead of enabling.
In short, yesterday China’s trade mostly took place with developed markets, was comprised of low-valued-added goods, and was priced in dollars. Tomorrow, China’s trade will be oriented towards emerging markets, focused on higher value-added goods, and priced in RMB.
This would mark a profound change from China’s old development model: keeping its currency undervalued, inviting foreign factories to relocate to the mainland, transforming 10-20mn farmers into factory workers each year, and triggering massive labor productivity gains—gains which the government captures through financial repression and redeploys into large-scale infrastructure projects…
But the coming years may prove more challenging for unskilled workers as robotics and automation continue to gather pace. Over the coming decade, cheap labor may not be the comparative advantage it was in the previous decade, simply because the cost of automation is now falling fast (see The Robots Are Coming)… For decades we have had machines that could perform simple repetitive tasks; now we have machines that can be reprogrammed easily to perform a wide range of more complicated functions…
One consequence of cheaper and more flexible automation is that some manufacturing that fled the developed world for cheap-labor destinations like China may return to the US, Japan and Europe, as firms decide that the benefits of low-cost labor no longer outweigh the advantage of better logistics and proximity to customers.
The three big events of 2001 were:
The terrorist attacks of 9/11. This unleashed a decade of bi-partisan “guns and butter”policies in the US and produced a structurally weaker dollar.
China joined the WTO in December 2001. China’s full entry into the global trading system signaled a re-organization of global production lines and China’s emergence as a major exporter…
The introduction of euro banknotes. The introduction of the common currency unleashed a decade of excess consumption in southern Europe, financed unwittingly by northern Europe through large bank and insurance purchases of government debt.
But today, all three trends have stalled—and this perhaps accounts for the discomfort and uncertainty we find in most meetings with clients. Indeed:
US guns and butter spending is over. For the first time since 1970, real growth in US government spending is in negative territory:
Chinese capital spending is slowing. China still needs to invest a lot more, but future growth rates will be in the single digits.
Excess consumption in southern Europe is done. Money is clearly flowing out to seek refuge in northern Europe.
Cultivating our hearts is something of an art. The practice of any art, according to philosopher Erich Fromm, requires discipline, concentration, patience and supreme concern.
1. Discipline. Within the art of cultivating your heart, the practice of discipline is as simple as focusing your thoughts on what is right, true, honest and good (you are your thoughts, never forget this – Philippians 4:8).
2. Concentration. Concentration implies living fully in the present, engaged in what is noble and right, rejecting false ideas implanted by the media (lust, sexuality as the basis of intimacy, individualism and false standards of womanhood) and also rejecting today’s greedy corporate culture that preaches entitlement above all else. When you feel you’re entitled to something, it’s easy to get caught up in emotional wrong-doings. For instance, if you’re lonely and feel you’re entitled to romance, then your heart will make up excuses if you find it in the wrong place.
3. Patience. If we fall, we get up, forgive ourselves and try again, knowing that God, our biggest fan, roots us onwards.
4. Supreme concern. The condition of practicing any art is supreme concern with its mastery. This means we must be diligent, considering the art of cultivating our hearts to be of supreme importance.
Mongolia is at a crossroads both geographically and metaphorically. Landlocked between China and Russia, this once sleepy post-socialist country has been described as “the wolf of Asia” for its fast-growing economy (due mainly to a mining boom). An increasing number of countries and companies are trying to improve trade ties, contracts, roads and rail links to and within the land where Genghis Khan was born.
In Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s capital, gleaming Hummers growl in the traffic jams, passing new hotels, European style restaurants and even a Louis Vuitton near Sukhbaatar Square, site of massive democratic protests two decades ago to end one-party Communist rule. Just a few blocks north of Sukhbaatar Square are narrow dirt roads crisscrossing passed wooden fences guarding yurts or houses where people live without running water.
Outside of Ulaanbaatar in the countryside, nomadic herders live in yurts much the way they have lived for centuries. Yet they text and talk on cell phones as they watch horses, cows, yaks, sheep, goats and camels grazing free on open-range land, rugged land without title deeds.
Pre-modernism, modernism and post-modernism co-exist and clash in this land dominated by the revered “Blue Sky.” On mountain tops people worship nature deities and Buddha as they circle sacred cairns of rock. In the valleys below lay 20th century Soviet architecture, where a workers’ paradise was never realized. In these modern square uniform buildings, some seek new spiritualties as they also seek to get rich. People may seek the guidance of an Indian guru or feng shui, or they may see what new gadgets they can buy from home shopping on TV.
The sudden transition two decades ago from communism to democracy hit many Mongolians hard. But Gerelmaa and her husband, nomadic herders who had lived in a herders collective, fared well. The new freedoms allowed them to increase their livestock and they became rich. Then Gerelmaa’s husband suddenly left her. Distraught, Gerelmaa was walking on the open steppe by herself when she heard a voice saying “I will save you.” She turned around to see who was talking to her, but nobody was there. Scared, she thought she was going crazy. Then she heard the voice again: “I will save you.” She did not know what to think.
Later she moved to a town and a friend invited her to a Christian church. She did not know what to expect, but she went. In the church she discerned that there was a connection between the God she was hearing about and the voice she had heard before. She put her faith in Jesus.
Miraculous stories in the beginnings of Mongolian Christianity were common, with healings, sudden rains in response to Christians praying in drought-stricken regions or other supernatural encounters, like Gerelmaa’s. Today, those stories are fewer. Some might say that Mongolian Christians’ faith or passion is diminishing. Or perhaps God in his sovereignty performed miracles in frontier, pioneer situations, where Christ was unknown, to get people’s attention.
Indeed, the present-day church of Mongolia is rapidly maturing. In 1990 there were fewer than 10 known Christians in Mongolia. Today there are more than 50,000. Childlike faith that once embraced miracles is deepening through trials. Along with their Buddhist, Shamanist, agnostic or Muslim neighbors, Christians in Mongolia face health problems, the death of children and other disappointments and temptations.
Baatar recently walked into church drunk. He was apologetic, however, and asked for forgiveness from God and the people. Years ago, Baatar had been a heavy drinker, but he gave up drinking after Christians prayed for him after a serious work accident in which the doctor told his family to prepare for his death. Baatar recovered—astonishing the hospital staff—and he found new life in Christ. Later, he married a Christian wife, and the two of them have served as short-term missionaries in a restrictive Asian country.
Recently, however, Baatar’s brother died. Looking for a scapegoat, the family blamed Bataar and disowned him for being a Christian. In his despair, Baatar briefly took numbing comfort from vodka. The following week he was praising God in church with a clear mind. The vibrant, growing faith in Mongolia is not without its heart-wrenching hardships, backslidings and uncertainties in relating to the wider society.
OMF International workers, aiming to see indigenous, biblical church movements throughout East Asia, serve with Joint Christian Services (JCS International) in Mongolia, a consortium of more than a dozen agencies “to see Mongolians building and restoring families, churches and communities.” JCS members witness through and outside of work, teaching English, running sports programs, teaching in medical colleges, working with agricultural projects or helping with business start-ups. JCS members partner with Mongolian government and non-government agencies and churches so that Mongolians can find the way in a changing land.
People ask if missionaries are needed for Mongolia. What is needed are men and women willing to walk alongside Mongolian Christians, growing along with them as we seek to love our neighbors here and proclaim the gospel there in regions beyond. As the Lord is raising up Mongolian Christian leaders, what is needed is men and women willing with servant hearts.