We noticed two recent articles in the “New European” weekly newspaper- one on 2nd June which drew parallels between Boris Johnson’s response to the Sue Gray report, and Richard Nixon’s April 1973 TV address. Both said they were “appalled”, claimed credit for ordering an investigation, talked about re-organising and getting on with the job in hand, though Johnson did not announce “I am not a crook” (which Nixon did after his broadcast).
An earlier 19th May article by Moises Naim (“The Revenge of Tyranny”) spoke of democracy in the world being under increasing pressure- not for lack of frequent elections, but from “fake news”, the polarisation of opinion that makes many people feel they must withdraw from any kind of political discussion for the sake of their own sanity, and subtle changes in laws that once guaranteed access to information for people. As one cynical politician in the 2010 Danish TV series “Borgen” (now on Netflix) said: “This naïve idea of a nation run by the people….. A tiny privileged circle of people rule Denmark, from the corporate world, the media, and a few politicians. As long as I’m part of that circle they can call it anything they like.”
Alongside those articles was concern about the decline in numbers of butterflies, a pointer to the more general and catastrophic decline in insects and other species through climate change and intensive agriculture. Despite the growing awareness of these crises by people (especially young people through education), governments rarely take sufficient notice to take effective action. Efficient and well-financed lobbying by institutions and companies outweighs the far more spontaneous and democratic pressure from ordinary people. And at times, if that democratic pressure appears to be gaining ground, some governments will resort to violence to maintain the economic structures that benefit a few at the expense of the world and many of its people.
Our reading was Luke chapter 8, verses 26 to 39, the story of the “Gadarene Swine”. Is this precisely an example of the impact of that kind of State violence? The man says his name is “Legion”, the name for a body of some 5 or 6 thousand Roman soldiers. They would have been a familiar sight in that region- has he been terrorised (beaten up repeatedly), so that the memory is now a nightmare he cannot escape? If so, his encounter with Jesus brings him healing.
The pigs panic- in the same way that human crowds sometimes take on a group identity that overwhelms individual judgement. And in the case of human crowds can turn groups which are feared or looked down on into scapegoats for the ills of the whole society.
Weblinks: https://www.theneweuropean.co.uk/how-johnson-became-nixons-heir/ https://www.theneweuropean.co.uk/the-revenge-of-tyranny-by-moises-naim/ https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/may/29/the-guardian-view-on-british-butterflies-declining-beauty https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jul/25/the-insect-apocalypse-our-world-will-grind-to-a-halt-without-them http://link.butterfly-conservation.org/m/1/71172733/p1-b22097-2d054e73af644e5184ae32a8adcee69f/1/156/c70402e7-4d0f-4366-a514-8d639ae84b17