Disillusion is now becoming my biggest battle. It’s not that I haven’t got over my idealistic teenage mindset – when to right the world of wrong and wrongdoers was the very substance of a half baked hippy from the suburban highlands. No! I am over my self indulgent, super hero phase. This is far more terrifying since the very framework of society seems to me to be established on no more than an illusion, or series of illusions.
The substance of the plan is that politicians are elected to take decisions – many very tough – in the interests of both present and future generations. It may not win you friends yet it is the very essence of public service and something one might aspire to. It is not a responsibility undertaken for the financial rewards and will win no popularity contest, yet it does leave a legacy of sound judgement within conflicting trends and opinions.
However, today it appears the substance was mere illusion to pacify the voters in a practising democracy – maybe one day practice will make perfect! The illusion is in fact the substance, politicians, it would appear, have no greater ambition than personal enrichment, re-election and, as we used to say, ‘to make hay whilst the sun shines’; and there’s been little enough of that this summer!
Then bankers are no longer the lovely reliable images of Mary Poppins where very cautious men pride themselves upon the security of the bank in providing the general population with a safe place to invest their hard won and often meagre savings against a rainy day. The bowler and pinstriped suit has been exchanged for the Emperor’s new clothes – only problem is that the whole economy is in the altogether! Of course we now discover they have all been away, if not with the fairies, then flying kites of various sorts, mostly rather risky one’s that when they fall from the sky basically bankrupt half the world. No problem the politicians print money that is supported by – well by an illusion – money that stays in the banks, some 35 billion pounds. Now I am no economist but if every household had been given a handout of this 35 billion then we would have paid tax on it and then spent the rest on good or ill thus stimulating the economy, putting money through tills and of course banks!
And so the story goes on. Overpaid footballers who can only mouth expletives at each other and hire expensive lawyers to determine that Mr Terry’s use of foul language is neither racist nor surprising. I might just use the same piece of ‘Terry style sarcasm’ next time I’m travelling by train and I expect the station staff member I direct my humorous remarks at will now simply smile and say, ‘I bet you bought I would hear that as racist rather than a piece of witty sarcasm’!
This last year I have been completing my training as a spiritual director with the Franciscans and it has been wonderful to escape for a weekend a month into a world in which affirmation, encouragement and a practical commitment to beneficial outcomes are the norm. The level of income is irrelevant yet the work ethic is high. It is perhaps time to recognise that the nineteenth century experiment in secularism with its naked commitment to capitalism is in fact itself proving to be no more than an illusion.And the Christ those who pioneered and today implement such a view claim as illusory actually did rise from the tomb and is as alive today as either you or I. Is this not in fact the substantive truth?
All I know is as we wake to ever more amazing news stories, my temptation to be forever disillusioned. I address this through my habitual practice of a rhythm of silent contemplation of the illusory Christ – for as for me and my house we will serve the Lord. Jesus is the one person remaining with integrity intact! No longer the illusion but far more substantial than anything I see or read in my daily news.