The election is over and they won.
I am not quite sure who ‘they’ are any more- but I know them when I see them, I know them when I hear them. They are the ones who have an agenda that is motivated by many things but whose compassion is buried deep; it is not entirely absent, but is nevertheless entirely subordinate.
We have been fed a great deceit; that in a time of austerity, self interest is the only logical path. We have allowed ourselves to be convinced that efforts towards social justice are politically naive, as the poor only have themselves to blame. We have been convinced that the heroes of our society are the ‘wealth creators’, whose laudable desire to accumulate is the only social good that matters. The outsiders? Keep them out. The sick? Let them suffer quietly (and cheaply). Those fleeing violence and wars and poverty from other parts of the world? Not our problem.
So it is that our leaders are about to do away with the Human Rights Act- who wants Johnny Foreigner telling us what we should or should not be doing to the weakest in our society?
So too are they going to find ways of cutting £12 billion from our welfare budget- at a time when our population is aging and suicide rates are on the rise from all sorts of brokenness at the cutting edge of austerity. (Remember that only 6% of Welfare is spent on unemployment benefits. Pensions are by far the biggest share.)
Up here in Scotland we can feel slightly smug- after all, a surge of left leaning politics means that we are different. Except this difference comes at a cost- the old cross-border alliances are broken.
It is all about leadership, some say- we chose the wrong man, perhaps the wrong brother. He did not get his message across. Perhaps not, but I find myself wondering again- where did the compassion go?
I will not believe that this is the best we can do. I will not believe that self interest is ever the route to happiness and healthy societies. It walls us off in our small private spaces, counting each precious pinched penny and jealously guarding every inch of privet hedge- as if this was the way that life could be measured.
Christians should know better of course- we have read the beatitudes, but set them aside in favour of a twisted version of John 3 v16. We pretended that sober respectability equated to a very suburban kind of salvation, forgetting that our Saviour was homeless, workless and consorted with all sorts of unproductive people reliant on benefits and charity for their daily bread. Forgetting that at the end of the day, only three things remain; faith hope and love…
And the greatest of these is love.