The harvest of my potatoes and courgettes from my small garden provide me with the hope of an oasis in the desert. For it seems like every other grain of sand is yet another story of disappointment, denial and destruction.
Where, I wonder, are the leaders who are prepared to stand up for citizens, whoever those citizens are? Where has the decency gone? Where is the care for others? Instead, we’re witnessing a rapid descent of standards coupled with a rapid rise in governments approaching dictatorship.
I’m disappointed in elected representatives across the world, but in particular, in the UK and USA. Our Prime Minister, elected as such only by 90,000 of his own Conservative Party after the resignation of Teresa May, blunders about, breaking the law. Yet he hasn’t even got the humility to acknowledge this. Last week, the Supreme Court, our highest UK Court, with 11 Law Lords, declared that he had broken the law in proroguing Parliament. This means that Boris Johnson advised the Queen to suspend Parliament to prevent MPs from debating anything, let alone how we leave the European Union. He lied to the Queen! Yet he says it was to give time for a New session of Parliament to restart. He is in complete denial.
Mr Johnson is in denial, too, about his minority government. His best friend seems to be none other than one President Donald Trump, who also seems to be in denial about many things. In both cases, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to separate fact from fiction. In both cases, they blame the opposition when they don’t get their own way. In both cases, they seem determined to thwart democracy. Their methods may be different, but the effect is the same. In both cases, other representatives are investigating alleged misdemeanours.
What is happening in countries that are supposedly democracies? Many people despair in the UK as we’re told the ‘will of the people’ must prevail. It’s clear though, that we are a country divided. We are a world divided. We are divided by wealth, gender, race, skin colour, geography and more. I am in no doubt that these two white, Western males, along with their band of ‘advisors’ are abusing their positions. Their use of language is an affront that intimidates and appalls in equal measure, yet it provides a role model for far-right nationalist males to emulate.
Wherever we stand on the political spectrum, incitement to aggression or violence will never be acceptable. Watching from the side-lines is not acceptable either. It’s for all of us to make our feelings known in every way possible.
So I’m no longer disappointed, I’m raging. I’m raging about the effects these two men have on so many people. I’m raging about inequality, where the poor get poorer, where discrimination is legitimised and those who disagree are demonised. I’m raging as I watch the destruction caused by fires raging in the Amazon, contributing massively to climate change. Meanwhile, deforestation continues and President Trump seems to be encouraging Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to allow more development there. Prime Minister Johnson supports fracking, despite small earthquakes occurring on these sites already. Their actions deny us the right to look after the earth. They deny people the right to live without the fear of flooding or mudslides, killing families, ruining lives.
Many of us in the UK have celebrated the Harvest Festival, giving thanks for what we have. In many parts of the world, there is nothing. The crops don’t grow because of too much rain or too little. Yet the main messages are not those of ‘help your neighbours’. Instead they seem to be Make America Great Again, Make Britain Great Again, Make Brazil Great Again and on it goes.
This is a time for us to put the love of God and our neighbours into action. The time to accept that Jesus was radical and challenged continuously. He led with compassion and love for others, challenging and calling out all that was wrong.
Selfishness and greed will get us nowhere. Whilst it’s not for us to judge, it’s for us to challenge. My little personal harvest brings me hope. Together, whether we grow plants or not, we can share all we have, including our love, to bring that hope to others.
Rev Maggie Roderick is a Church of Scotland minister, whose most recent parish was in a Central Scotland village. She now lives with her husband in Stirling, providing pastoral and preaching cover where it is needed. Maggie is passionate about social justice. She also loves to plant vegetables and flowers in her small garden.
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