Reflections on the Newspaper
The greed and corruption oozing from the pages of our newspapers angers me. It’s a righteous anger; the poor and marginalised are the ones who suffer most; helpful programmes are exploited and money wasted.
But self-righteousness hides in the centre. I can point fingers, express anger, write letters. It’s out there, it’s them, it’s our money they steal, our space they threaten. Crime spirals out of control, feeding on the corruption at the centre, like a festering boil that is merely the symptom of turmoil within.
There are stories of poverty that shock and sadden me and I rant once more against the politicians, blaming them, their greed and their failure. After all, their failure impacts on my future and my security.
I retreat for a while into the sports pages, despairing at the politics found even there, but enjoying the uncomplicated stories in which I am not in any sense involved. I delight in the stories of triumph over adversary and take time out among the arts and festivals. There is hope and joy and victory, in spite of the forces of darkness and the activities of politicians.
How tempting to disengage at that point. The troubles are the fault of politicians who must change their ways. And my role? I shall pray for them, of course. And I shall pray for more vision and more determination among the poor and the marginalised, because cycles of poverty can be broken if people would only follow the various examples of triumph. And there are good things, “normal” things that I can celebrate. Surely celebration will help normalise our society?
But packing away the newspapers allows me to focus my attention where it belongs, because I know only too well that God’s work in this wide, wicked world begins with me. The greed and competitive consumerism echoed in these pages is mirrored in my own selfish accumulation of “stuff”. I have taught myself to need more and more and to justify my greed. My own consumerism distances me from the poor. I am afraid of getting too close in case I have to let go of what I have learned to need.
So my anger at the politicians is, indeed, self-righteousness, self-protection, an attempt to distance me from pain and from responsibility. This is my Father’s world. However small my footprint, my interaction with others affects their lives and affects our planet. This is our Father’s world. How do I care for my sisters and brothers and the space in which they live? How do I take account of the corruption and greed and competitive consumerism within me that hides behind the screaming headlines and dramatic pictures?
This piece emerged from a retreat where we were presented with a selection of current newspapers and invited to reflect on what we saw.