Picking sides

O.J. Simpson passed away a couple of days away. Just shy of 30 years ago was the famous trial and not only did he become a household name for those who had not heard of him before but the trial either catalysed a new era or was defining of a new era – that of picking sides. He was innocent, he had been set up… or he was as guilty as heck and should not escape justice. The publicity of the trial meant that we all had information – or so we thought. Fast forward and that polarisation is even ever-more present. Many live within the silo (echo chamber) of their social media feed. We think we have so much information so can make an intelligent decision. We are ‘pro’ or ‘against’ based on our knowledge, or in reality on our lack of knowledge and our biased opinion.

In an age when ‘tolerance’ is valued highly we are strangely quick to have an opinion that is not open to being challenged, hence the increasing polarisation. It exists in politics, and is exasperated when faith is added into the mix – and we hold to ‘so and so’ is God’s candidate. In 2005 (just after Bush was elected for the second time) I was in the USA and in a number of settings said that the candidate who enters the White House in 2008 will NOT be the one that is being prayed for, prophesied about, will not be the one of the ‘Christian’ choice, but he needs to be embraced – for if not there would be a double blow in 2012. And the reason for this is to illustrate that ‘you are already deceived’. Not deceived over who is ‘God’s candidate’, and that they had picked the wrong one, but that candidates are relative, and for that reason one person votes one way and another differently.

Let’s face it… we are all mixed, or as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn put it ‘the line of good and evil does not separate me from the other, rather it runs through me and the other’ (probably not an exact quote!). Allow me just for a moment to illustrate it with the US and politics – though the principle is clear everywhere. Trump is not God’s choice, but probably the choice of the majority of white, middle-class charismatic Christians. This says a lot about those making the vote – maybe it says good things about them.

Polarisation, flowing from our biases. We have it in the New Testament: ‘I am of Paul / Peter / Apollos / et al’. Who are these people, Paul retorts, they are servants and stop aligning with them for they only have purpose if they serve you and your destiny.

We have to learn to live with more uncertainty. I don’t know the answer, I have a perspective that seems to be ever more tenuous. Uncertainty over our own opinion and more secure in the anchor point of what was done on the cross to bring about a transformation of the world.

The disciples on seeing a man born blind quickly presented the options – who was to blame? The man himself, or was it something generational? Jesus cut right through that with a response into the situation and simply went for the solution, the way forward. No time for an opinion, time for action. The disciples looked back Jesus opened the future.

Picking sides, politically, theologically and personality-wise usually stems from our past. What could happen if we could shut down all of that and began to act and work toward a future different to the past. 2020 – a year of great sight surely indicated that we entered an epoch when global resets were within our grasp.

I dare say that forthcoming elections will indicate that we have not moved on very much… but they might just accelerate the end of an era.

Neither this man nor his parents sinned; so let God’s works be manifested in him.

(My translation… an important use of what is termed the ‘Imperatival hina clause’.) No… your analyses are totally inadequate, no time for discussion – we are carriers of God, so we look to the future. Let the present change, let the future come.

Now that is different. So many situations are simply ‘same old, same old’. Agents of change – begins here and now. Stop picking sides.

4 thoughts on “Picking sides

  1. Good thoughts. I sincerely wish USA Christians would hear this. We are kinda sick and tired of the masses in the church bringing their political bias into their faith world…promoting their candidate or party as the only one Christians should support (though I may agree with at least part of their argument, then again, I may not). As most of us have, we’ve seen friendships end because of political divide. Unfortunately, it seems the church can be loveless and more divisive at times than inclusive and uniting, and I really can’t find anywhere in the NT where we are called to that persuasion.

  2. I confess I live most of the time with a deep sense of confusion about what I see going on in the world around me. The escalation of violence. The belligerence from so many. The incredible dehumanization of certain peoples and then really of most of us. The glorification of war and death. I see a few leaders across the globe stoking it all. While about 8 billion of us wait in anxiety for what they will do next because it is clear we do not matter to them at all. It is tragic and absurd all at the same time.

    We have a single job to do right now as a species among many other species. One job. That is to confront and as effectively as possible mitigate climate instability and breakdown. And to invest in human settlements to make them better adapt to the extreme weather and secondary events they now face and will face for a long time. That’s it. One job. A single focus for us all.

    And yet, we are constantly distracted by these little, mostly men, who demand our attention. Who use code words for killing and for how many they destroy (proportional deaths, collateral damage). No humans or other species there to be killed, just statistics is what we are told. They craft a ‘morality’ that validates and affirms their violence.

    When it comes to dealing with the climate disaster we are all on the same side. No one gets away from it as it is global. No one is immune to direct and secondary effects. Everyone is needed when it comes to rescuing ourselves and the planet from escalating catastrophes. But we allow these small men with needy egos (from thugs and warlords to prime ministers) to give us narratives that justify their behaviour and keep us from doing what we desperately need to do.

    It is beyond frustrating, especially as the young people I teach will live their lives with the damage inflicted by these ignorant, morally repugnant people. No young person will escape a life of coping with chronic disasters, economic precarity, and constant shortages of things needed for life. We have bequeathed that legacy to them because we cannot or will not shut down these people who claim righteous narratives, moral superiority, and have the military forces to support themselves and their quests.

    I don’t have any answers. Well, I do. My answer to to build an energy efficient home so that when I go (sooner rather than later) other people can shelter there. My answer is to plant a garden that is both beautiful and productive. My answer is to work with my local community to promote productive and beautiful gardens for all. I know it is not enough but it is what I can do.

    1. Apologies for the rant. I am just confused and frustrated with what I see going on. We really need a planetary reset!

  3. To Anne,I just wanted to say that your honesty and vulnerability is second to none.So many of us are feeling some of that and you give voice while we’re sometimes afraid or ashamed.So thank you .And for all of your comments.Your knowledge and passion for your students is amazing .You are sowing seeds which will search out the good soil and they will become oaks of righteousness,the planting of the Lord.In the new earth,whatever that looks like. Keep on ,keeping on Anne .Thank you.And I agree that cities don’t have to be big!

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