Left, Right, and Centre

Have you noticed how the world is divided into left, right and centre? Those who are on the right of the political spectrum spit the word ‘leftist’ whenever they wish to disapprove of something (I’ve even heard it used of cooking!); those on the political left tend to prefer ‘fascist’ or, in this country, ‘Tory’, to express deep, inner loathing of something or someone. Most of the time what provokes their ire has nothing to do with politics as such, which leaves old-fashioned centrists bemused, because they are apparently disliked by everyone as lily-livered wimps. Applied to the Church, the preferred terms are ‘traditionalist’ and ‘liberal’, which leaves those of us who prefer just to call ourselves Catholics in an awkward position, because we clearly have no real identity — save for the one that matters, in Christo. I say that, not to be ‘smart’ or score a point, but because I believe it to be true. So much of daily life has become a battleground, but not a battleground of ideas and arguments, but of slogans and sound-bites. That is dangerous because we can end up failing to examine what lies behind the words and may even find ourselves advocating views we do not genuinely hold.

Today, in Britain, we face a crisis of government with the resignation of David Davis, the Brexit Secretary, and all that flows from his decision. The pundits are already busy and Social Media will soon be awash with accusations and counter-accusations. I shall be taking a day offline, as I do from time to time, but today with a particular purpose in mind. I believe we need to pray for wisdom and right judgement, and I know I can’t do that if I am tapping into other people’s anger and abuse all the time (it comes up unbidden on my Twitter stream, for example). Perhaps you will join me: not in a total fast, perhaps, but in setting aside a definite time when you will pray for the Holy Spirit to inform our politicians’ decisions, and for them to be free of the left, right and centre stranglehold on thinking that has become characteristic of our age.