Along with many others I have been struck, challenged, intrigued and maybe even surprised to hear the Jeremy Paxman interview of Russell Brand. If you have not heard it, it’s really worth listening to, and actually reading the rest of this post would make little sense without hearing the interview first.
I love what Brand says. I literally was nodding and saying an audible yes throughout the interview. I share his frustration … and coincidentally for the first time in some 30 years I have not renewed my membership of the Labour Party. In the words of Brand, I also have become ‘weary and exhausted with the lies, treachery and deceit of the political class’. There are some good politicians around … if we talk MP’s though, locally I can only think of two – one being Paul Clarke who was Labour MP for Gillingham who is still working hard to help the local area, and the other being Tracey Crouch who is the Tory MP for Chatham and does not seem to be afraid to speak out for her constituents even when it is contrary to party views. People like Paul and Tracey seem the exception to the system. It does seem that whichever party takes the helm, the rich poor divide and fair distribution of services is rapidly deteriorating.
Brands words intrigue me. When Paxman challenges him over not voting as ‘that is how democracy works’ his response with the ‘well it’s not working very well’ is hard hitting and accurate. When Paxman asks him what he would do instead, Brand can only respond from the perspective of what he would not do.
Developing an alternative system when all you have known is the current state of how things are done is really tough and difficult. (as a pioneer trying to birth new church when all we have known is church can relate to this dilemma. But, that’s a post for later in the week)
A good friend pointed out to me earlier in the week that, actually, what Brand is calling for in his revolution is, basically, a call to a society based on Christian values.
Now before my friends of other faith and no faith sharpen weapons to attack me … hear me … I’m not saying everyone needs to believe and follow Jesus and society will be great (although I think it would be!) …. that would be a Christian society …. but a society based on Christian values is something different … A society can agree to live by Christian values of love, respect, honesty, equality, compassion etc simply because those things are good in themselves for the betterment of society.
These values would mean we had
A caring society where the planet is not being destroyed through selfish exploitation
A fair society where we do not create massive economic disparity
A compassionate society that takes account of the needs of the people
A society based on fairness and respect and love and care and compassion, with a desire to see everyone flourish and everyone to reach their potential with the view that community, not certain individuals, is what it is all about ….. that’s an alternative worth pursuing. An alternative that Jesus called for through the beatitudes:
When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
“You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
“Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.
That’s a kind of society I wish to vote for …