On moving to the “desert”


This quote from Ivan Illich speaks to me when I think about moving to Fiji from the West:

In the liberation of the world from the idols of progress, development, efficiency, Gross National Product and Gross National Education, the Third World has a crucial responsibility. Its masses are not yet totally addicted and dependent on  consumption, especially the consumption of service. Most people still heal, house and teach one another, and could do it better if they had slightly better tools. The Third World could lead the rest in the search for an environment which would be both modern and humane. Now, two worlds face each other: the Babel of Russia and the Egypt of the United States. Both are prisoners of their common idols. A third world covers the rest of the globe. It is the world of the Desert.

Even within the empires, the wasteland of slums now spreads. Egypt and Babel are impotent to save themselves. They can be saved from the tyranny of their idols only by the people who worship their nameless and living God in the desert, by those who have renounced the fleshpots of Egypt.


Source: “Education as an Idol” by Ivan Illich” in Religious Education, 66 no 6 N-D 1971, p 414-419.