They lied to me!
They did, they did!
And it was subtle and clever because it started early and I was too innocent to be aware. But the lid came off last week and now I know. It happened like this.
I had left a shop and was walking behind a child and his father. The child was coughing and asked his father, “When will I get better”. Without dropping a beat dad replied, “When you eat all your vegetables up”. Now I think I’m a bright guy. I’ve done the education thing and gone the whole distance. But something escaped me at this moment.
The child absorbed the advice without a word and I can only imagine there was a debate going on in his head between the desire for health and the need to eat vegetables. If I do this, but if I do that…you know the thing?
And I saw. The things we are told in answer to our questions. I know that eating vegetables is good advice but selling it to the ignorant as a solution to an unrelated issue in order that a goal can be achieved. Really! I’m thinking no. Whilst some may see no harm in this and that the end justifies the means, let’s consider where this behaviour leads. Let’s go to an extreme and it is an extreme. The other end of the spectrum. What was it that Hitler said? “Make the lie big, make it simple and keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it”. Not the need to eat vegetables and everything will be alright type of lie but a far more insidious type of lie such as the necessity to remove the foreigner, the cripple, the Jew to ensure the return of our well-being. Two examples, very different in nature, of using a need to achieve an unconnected end.
Can it happen because we become so focused on our problem, our situation, our desire for something better? Is it that people are more than happy to have someone else think through and offer supposed solutions? Is it that the clever, the manipulative, the narcissist feed into peoples ignorance, needs and fears with promises of a better day? And it’s the ignorant and oppressed where they begin because, well let’s get the show on the road and a little easy momentum soon becomes a force.
So I’ve seen the light, so to speak and I’m reflecting on the things I remember being told. There were some whoppers. Many done with good and well meant intent but still, they feed someone else’s idea of success or achievement or the life that should be lived. Then they denied the alternatives if indeed they acknowledged the existence of an alternative. Hindsight is said to be a wonderful thing but it can be darned frustrating because knowing now what I missed then doesn’t always lead to a good feeling. Knowing another way was denied to me because, well, they lied to me, isn’t a piece of feel good.
My religious teachers lied to me because, there are other interpretations and ways of understanding things. Because reading wider and daring to delve into text that were forbidden and demonised led to a larger, deeper more accepting and tolerant view of God’s intentions. Because we don’t need a man or woman to stand between us and God as many claim. My God deals direct.
My political leaders lied to me, blatantly, repeatedly and whilst early on the dream they proffered was exciting and heralded hope the shine soon washed away and revealed the actual intent and limitations of so many. The shortfall that occurs when integrity runs out or never actually took the stage. I wonder how many lies I have been offered about this Covid world we now inhabit?
They lied to me.
But there remains a shred of hope which we Christians celebrate at this time of years and other faiths celebrate at different dates. That God has not left us. God the Divine Invader who entered our worlds in so many guises, so many ways. God who speaks in a myriad different ways and withdraws from no person. This Christmas some of us will celebrate the Divine Invader, a being of integrity, love, truth, who has come to confront the systems of this world and offer a true solution to our problems.
Christmas is coming and with it once again comes the chance of hope, hope starting with me and you, and truth, which may feel unfamiliar when you’ve been lied to for years. It may feel uncomfortable, in fact I’m sure at times it will be uncomfortable. It may not offer a quick fix and certainly won’t offer a solution at the expense of another. It may cause me to take a deep breath at times but in the final analysis it will bring peace once it has dealt with all that has gone before.
And if you’re not a Christian, but you believe in God, then you know of God who enters the world, for you, in other ways but still confronts with the same message of hope, love and truth albeit told with different words.
So Pogue, we got lied to and gullible as we are at times, we believed the lies and inevitably we walked a path that led to disillusionment and frustration. We wondered how we could change our worlds for the better. We felt helpless against the tide. But Christmas is for people like us and tells us a better world.
And you really don’t have to eat your broccoli to get to heaven. Honest.
Yours, looking forward to the Divine Invader,