Different words for the same thing


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When the UK narrowly voted to exit the EU my only hope was that all sides reflected on why.   When Trump was elected I hoped all institutions would consider why.  That never happened.  And now this second post-failed impeachment verdict I have no hope any reflection will take place this time either.  Institutions are adept at looking after their own interests.

Brexit was a response to an ever-growing and unaccountable institution.  One that handled obscene sums of money with a seemingly arrogant detachment from whence it came.  The taxes – the hard earned money – of the very human beings its only purpose was to “serve”.   More and more the gulf between rulers and ruled (as it was seen by “the ruled”) grew wider.   Reports of lavish lifestyles and culture – a protected and defended bubble of privilege – ever more common.  That was mostly why Brexit in my small-perspective view.

Trump the same.  Two established institutions so familiar with ruling for ever that $billions are raised (i.e. given by those who speculate a return on their “donation”) and spent to gain access and power – to retain or gain power and repel the other side from gaining or taking that same access and power.  All to live and thrive in the bubble of protected privilege paid for – again – by taxes of hard earned money from the very human beings the institution’s only purpose is to “serve”.  Lavish lifestyles are a way of life. The bubble is all.   That is why Trump in my UK based perspective.

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I remember a wonderful trip to the USA almost twenty years ago.  One I remember as though last week.  We travelled the eastern side staying with family from Ohio to Florida.  Three fabulous weeks hardly ever on the tourist scene.  My lasting memory was of a fractured nation.  One that had a great uncertainty in who this global force that we know (from the outside) as “The US” is actually meant to be (on the inside).  I have no idea if that has changed since.  It was a vulnerability I never imagined could be.  From the UK “The US” is a unified force, the global policeman, the leading player in world politics and economy.  A self-assured and confident (over confident from international media reporting) country that speaks as one.  I didn’t see that confidence.

Just as we in the UK have a hesitancy about our Empire Days.  An ambiguous view that we ruled the world and really should still (if only the big boys listened a bit more), alongside a growing awareness of the harm done to those “colonies” the Empire viewed as “resources” to be pillaged low and sold to others high.

Real people on both sides of the Atlantic.  All over the world.  Beginning as a movement and becoming a static grounded-on-self-survival monolith.  A looking-in from the outside from those now excluded.  And those on the outside ever more restless.

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Except it happens at a micro-level as well.  Local councils, chambers of trade, football teams, golf clubs, social clubs … all mirrored on “family” and a family’s ethos.  Yet destined to live a different ethos: membership to be earned and paid-for. 

And that changes everything. 

No longer unconditional – now conditional in every sense of the word.  Now with a certain way of doing things.  That infamous having to fit-in, that smile to my face and manoeuvring behind my back, that discomfort of not knowing how “we” do things around here. 

From job interviews to applying for government benefits, from cradle to grave, from going to church to keeping our lawn (yard) tidy … we spend our lives conditionally belonging.

Maybe that is why I have been told so many times all I need is to find the right church.  One where I will fit.  And just as I take exception to the institutions of Brexit, the global system of politics, the weirdness of global faiths all preaching love yet tearing strips out of each other … so too I question my need to find “the right church”.   Only because the church says it is different.  That it is in this world but not of this world.  Teaches it is above all that secular stuff. 

With its constitutions, committees, own training facilities, bills and accounts, and a head office structure – all very similar to the secular structures it says it isn’t.

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I bumped into one church that teaches its member the sin of (its members) envying the “privileges of service” – along with the sin (of those serving) being too attached to their privileges.  Secular organisations use different words for the same thing. 

And the seemingly ever-present #metoo issues regularly unearthed after being covered-up for decades – just as secular institutions cover-up grooming and abuse.  Then this institutional obsession with being “biblically correct” that makes so many churches inward-looking – just as so many secular organisations will their rules and regs.  Another church I bumped into lived the reality at grassroots level of working around the constitution rather than within it – just as the grassroots in so many companies do the same thing with head-office dictates.

And yet The Church’s constant soul-searching for bums on seats … for trying to duplicate the success stories … for analysing the failures … constantly searching for success in numbers – that to me misses the point just as every struggling or (currently) successful institution misses the point. 

The institution and its fight for survival is the point it misses everytime.  In its fight to remain viable.  To be relevant.  To be at the table of policy-makers and power-brokers.  To assure its own survival because it is too important not to survive.  That’s why Brexit … that’s why Trump … that’s why the failed impeachments …

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Less than one year ago I set-up a Facebook group.  No rules.  Just under forty of us,  The only requirement was a default to kindness.  A “real being” default to kindness.  Kindness that doesn’t hit a “like” publicly and bitch privately on Messenger.  A kindness that evidences love without condition.  Not the gooey sentimental “I’ll love you if you love me” faux-love.  But the everyday all-day love that allows – which nurtures – each other’s individuality.  The freedom to come and go.  The understanding and acceptance of different beliefs and lifestyles.  The affection for each other in times of trouble and distress.  The safety we each create for each other to be who we are – to become who we want to be – day after day.  No rules necessary.

I see those groups in church as well.  As “secular and protective” of each other as this little group on Facebook.  It’s just that church says it’s different – but it’s not.

And that’s why I feel no angst walking away from church – just as I have and will from any other other institution/organisation.

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4 thoughts on “Different words for the same thing

  1. As a disillusioned centrist here (US) I see the problem as an unwillingness to seek true compromise. Both sides want only their way to exist. I read an article from a guy who claimed to have the solution. He said he brought together people from all sides to seek common ground. When I looked at the list of groups they were all from the left. How do you get a real solution if you only talk to one end of the spectrum?

    Liked by 1 person

    • “How do you get a real solution if you only talk to one end of the spectrum?”

      Absolutely but it’s much easier to have people agree with your point of view doing it that way 🙂 I do wonder where and when our accepted and embedded “binary mindset” of right/wrong, left/right. correct/incorrect, in/out all came from. Makes common ground far harder to see and agree.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Here, in America, I believe it started with the abortion debate. After years of debate an agreement was met on allowing abortion for cases of rape, incest, or when the “life of the mother” was endangered. The instant that agreement was signed the left began pushing to expand it to its current state, and the right began fighting to keep it with the agreement. It was also when Kennedy made his “litmus test” declaration* which the left has fought to adhere to.

        *Litmus Test: This was in 1973 during the nomination of Judge Bork for a position on the US Supreme Court, denying him the position because of his supposed position on legalized abortion.

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        • I look at all this stuff, then look at the Gospels and see little that would have shocked and outraged Jesus like it seems to shock and offend us today – with the exclusion of the inhumanity we have come to take so much pride in showing to each other.

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