It never ceases to amaze me just how quickly we forget what matters. I include myself.
We are only a week after Easter Day and already we have put to one side the fact that the empty tomb signified the most astonishing turning point in human history. Our agendas change so quickly. Of course, you might say we haven’t forgotten we are led by events in the media. And the media from now till June 8th will only talk about one thing.
Just when you thought it was safe to watch TV again
We’ve all had our fill of Brexit, new PMs and the rest of it haven’t we. After a turbulent 2016, most of us were hoping for a politically quiet 2017 with our leaders focused on the mechanics of our EU withdrawal, so we could get on with the rest of it. Although I didn’t vote for the Conservatives or Brexit, I, like many people on both sides of the fence, found myself reassured with Theresa’s May’s no-nonsense approach. She had none of the charisma of Cameron, and completely lacked the hype and spin of Blair, both of whom were masterful showmen. But I thought “that’s fine, we need a sensible PM who will just get on with this”.
But it seems “the lady is for turning” and the uncertainty of 2016 is back in business. Many of us were hoping we could start to look beyond Brexit, but the announcement of a general election is a big step backwards. And let’s not assume that the election on June 8th will settle things. Let’s not assume the unexpected won’t happen – as we assumed on June 23rd last year – old wounds could be re-opened and new discord could be sown.
Naturally the media will continue to drive an election/Brexit agenda because they think that’s what we want. And regrettably, this is self-fulfilling – we become interested in what we are fed…because that’s all there is. So they will no doubt dig out more plots and subplots, real news and fake news, and Brendas from Bristol (God bless her, she spoke for many).
But as a nation we are losing the plot
When distractions of this size appear at the front door other things fall out of the back door. We forget what national government should be about and even what we as a population should be about. With national government and media obsessed on a single issue, all other matters of genuine priority are pushed out.
There are occasions in scripture where leaders and the population (and presumably whatever media they had) became obsessed with an idea they should not have been. It never turned out well.
Ancient Israel demanded a King (1 Samuel 8) "so they could be like everyone else" and that’s pretty much what happened, they became like the other nations. God even warned them that this obsessing and clamouring for a king was not what they were to focus on, but to no avail. Or in Jesus’ time (Matthew 23) look at the religious leaders of the day. In general, these were not wicked people, they were trying to do what they thought was right. Bu their insistence on scrupulously observing every word of the law (and making everyone else do the same) meant they lost the plot of what God actually wanted from them: "You hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices…but you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness".
Could it be, that while we follow every point and counter-point made in the run up to June 8th, we might neglect "the more important matters of the law"?
Is there anything we can do?
We are a week on from celebrating the most momentous event in human history when God revealed the shocking extent of his love for us. With news like that, there is always optimism. There is always good news.
But we are the vehicles of good news. Much will come down to what we choose to think about, talk about, pray about:
- Seek out news that is not election or Brexit related
Unfortunately, the media will not help here but if we are not informed we cannot say anything, pray anything or give anything. Last time I looked there was still an impending famine in East Africa. Last time I looked the population of Syria was still in desperation.
- Let’s talk about the impacts of Brexit that are not simply economic
We should ask our MPs how we ensure that Brexit does not undo the peace we have had in Northern Ireland for almost 20 years. Never say something can never happen - if peace is undermined we will not forgive ourselves, even if God does.
- We should insist our MPs desist from being obstructive
Legitimate opposite easily becomes damaging obstruction. MPs need to get behind whatever EU withdrawal process results - whether we or they voted for Brexit or not.
- We could go on and talk about eg local issues that matter, mental health or schools.
The things that mattered before Brexit, still matter.