… and he saw, and believed.
I’ve mentioned this before, the talk among world leaders, corporate CEOs, the heads of central banks and other international institutions about a ‘great reset’. The COVID-19 pandemic affords us, so it is argued, this opportunity to set so many things right.
A rather dodgy Chicago mayor once said, “never let a crisis go to waste,” and by that he meant if you can get the people panicked, afraid, you can sell them on anything if you can convince them that it’s the answer to their troubles. That speaks of an attitude of knowing better than the rest of us, of presuming to know; and of not trusting us. Not a good basis for ambitious plans of societal transformation.
I think this ought to make us more than a little nervous. For these are only human beings who propose to lead us, a mix of the well-intended but misguided, wise in some things, foolish in many, and the corrupt.
I know that for many, it seems an exciting opportunity; and I am sympathetic. If you’re passionate about the environment, then the Green initiatives you’ve longed to see, you presume will now be realized.
If you’re someone who has bemoaned the structure of our economy; not only for its inequities, but for its being based upon an ethic of consumerism, perhaps now we will make an economy rooted in producing through meaningful work; and that this work will not be all consuming of one’s life, but allow time and energy for family and community.
If you’re someone who longs for racial harmony and equal rights, this reset may well see a great reconciliation, and an even-handed, judicious settling of the issues that are history’s legacy to us.
In the vague pronouncements of the political, cultural and economic leadership of our civilization, you get the impression they’ve got some great plan, and from the Olympian heights of Davos, Switzerland they can see all us mere mortals scurrying about in our confusion, and they will now set it all into a beautiful, harmonious order.
It’s been tried before.
We have the story of the tower of Babel from out of the mists of pre-history, set down in sacred scripture as a cautionary tale. We have in history a succession of empires, with their beneficent tyrants, who have offered peace on their terms, prosperity of a sort, liberty narrowly defined. While today’s elites aren’t apt to understand themselves as divine or imperial, they nonetheless share in the conceit that their supposed expertise qualifies them above all others to rule us. By the algorithms they formulate, based on all the digital information we give up to them everyday through our devices, they manage us, manipulate us, censor and cancel the dissidents, divide us into an ever-growing list of identity categories and so, conquer us.
They can’t help it, they are of this world; and what they are trying to do for our supposed benefit is usher in, perhaps not paradise, but a world of greater justice and less suffering. I rather think that they are, wittingly or unwittingly, simply redesigning the cages, reconfiguring the chains, and aspiring to re-engineer us. They’re not looking to set any of us free.
The Resurrection is the true reset, the re-founding of humanity on the basis of something other than power, fear, and surrender to sin and death.
In the Passion narrative of Friday, Jesus says that he is a witness to the Truth, and everyone who belongs to the Truth listens to his voice.
Elsewhere in John’s gospel our Lord tells us, it is the Truth that will set us free.
To be baptized, is to die to this world, and live to Truth; to be confirmed in the Holy Spirit is to be anointed to serve the Truth. The Truth of who we are, of why we are here and to where we are headed in faith, this is the touchstone upon which we test all things, to know the truth of all things.
That is a much simpler solution for us all. If we lived in truth, would we not know how to be just, to see the purpose of life lies not in things, live then modestly but fully the time we are given?
Truth is a great inconvenience to the powerful of this world. They are forever trying to silence it, imprison it, cancel it, kill it because they cannot control it. Truth is the great counter to power; those who oppose it always fall, always fail in the end.
In the grave of Jesus, who is Truth incarnate, He cannot be found—the empty tomb of Easter is a testimony to the failure of worldly power, and a witness to the glory of God which overcomes. Christ has slipped the bonds of death, put aside His shroud and risen, and so set us all free.