So, what happens next?
We’ve had a week to begin to absorb the results of the US elections. Like a stone thrown into the middle of a pond, ripples of concern are moving outward. What will happen around climate change, trade, international relations, basic human rights? The feeling of having been robbed of the promise of a secure future isn’t restricted to residents of the US “rust belt”. Will the alt-right* movement in the US and Europe continue to grow as the only seemingly viable expression of disillusion? My European roots make the potential impact on it of a Putin/Trump alliance particularly significant: what about the people of Latvia, the country to which I feel viscerally bound? Tobias Stone’s blog “History tells us what may happen next with Brexit and Trump”** felt like a giant boulder being thrown into the middle of that pond.
We can’t predict what will happen next. Hoping it will all go away and grabbing a handful of popcorn as we watch yet another hour of comfort TV isn’t really an option, other than increasing the possibility of developing type 2 diabetes. The populist response in the tabloids and alt-right driven social media will not help build a more just society, nor will pretending there is no such thing as climate change when scientists tell us the last two years have been the hottest in recorded history.
One of the fundamental premises of the Christian message is that we are all connected one to another. It’s not only the solitary butterfly fluttering its wings in the Amazon rainforest that echoes across the planet, but our thoughts and actions, too. There is an intricate web of reciprocity that we all depend on for our existence; it can enrich our lives and the lives of others as well. It’s called love of neighbour: respecting each person’s worth, valuing the labour and needs of others, being available.
Another is the one in the Magnificat, Mary’s song of praise when she becomes aware she is carrying the saviour of the world within her womb:
You [God] have shown strength with your arm,
you have scattered the proud in their conceit;
you have deposed the mighty from their thrones
and raised the lowly to high places.
You have filled the hungry with good things,
while you have sent the rich away empty. (Luke 1:51-53. The Inclusive Bible)
The principles of fairness and equity, of justice and mutual support are God-like. The message that Jesus conveys in word and action reflect this. The call of the Christian message is to help build this into the fabric of society.
Be it the safety-pin you put in your lapel, the support shown to someone experiencing bigotry in a public place. Be it the respect shown to staff when those who manage companies recognize their primary responsibility is less to shareholders and their own bank-balance than the well-being of their employees, and their families. Be it the shareholders and stakeholders who affirm their critical role in ensuring the health of the planet, everyone builds a healthy society in a healthy world.
The Christian message isn’t just words, it’s a way of life. For everyone.