Williams' New Year message warns of a throwaway society

By staff writers
31 Dec 2007

In a message that will be shown on BBC2 at 20.30 GMT this evening and again on BBC1 at noon on New Year's Day, Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams warms Britain that a throwaway society risks creating throwaway people.

Dr Rowan Williams, who is also spiritual head of the 78 million strong worldwide Anglican Communion, says that those who have learned to discard rubbish and materials too easily are likely to do the same to people and relationships.

The archbishop's New Year message is filmed both in Canterbury Cathedral and at a nearby recycling centre, where he stresses his concern for the environment and the emphasises the moral and religious necessity of protecting it.

Dr Williams says that short-term exploitation of the earth's resources which produces fantastic quantities of waste has implications for other areas of life.

"In a society where we think of so many things as disposable - where we expect to be constantly discarding last year's gadget and replacing it with this year's model - do we end up tempted to think of people and relationships as disposable?" Dr Williams asks. "Are we so fixated on keeping up with change that we lose any sense of our need for stability?"

The Archbishop adds: "A lot of the time, we just don't let ourselves think about the future with realism."

He declares: "A culture of vast material waste and emotional short-termism is a culture that is a lot more fragile than it knows. How much investment are we going to make in a safer and more balanced future?"

Dr Williams is also making his message available on the popular YouTube website as well as BBC television, as he has done with previous messages and sermons.

The Archbishop adds in his message that God "does not do waste" and does not regard human life as disposable.

"[God] doesn't regard anyone as a 'waste of space', as not worth his time - from the very beginnings of life to its end, whether they are successful, articulate, productive or not," Dr Williams says.

He concludes: "A life that communicates a bit of what God is like is a life that doesn't give up."

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