July 2021

I a woke

It is always encouraging to discover that, no matter how old you are, there are always new things to find out about yourself. The other day, I discovered that I am, apparently, a woke. That is, in any case, what I was called, and the person calling me that made it abundantly clear that it was not meant to be a compliment: in fact it was an insult.

Now, of course, when you find in a discussion that the person with whom you are speaking resorts to insults, that is really good, for it means that the person concerned is recognising that you have won the argument. We sad boring Classicists call it argumentum ad hominem.

However I wasn’t entirely happy to leave it at that, as I was keen to know what gave away my wokishness/wokery/wokitude. (Not sure of the right word.) Apparently it was because I did not just believe that all people are equal and should be treated with equal respect, but - even worse - I did not realise that adopting such a position was not taking an ethical stance, but in fact a political one.

Now, as I wrote back in May, we all have a doctrine, and that doctrine determines the way we think and live. Unfortunately, there are those who think that, if you are a follower of Christ, that means that what you think important - what you think is Christian doctrine - is standing up for the Book of Common Prayer against Common Worship or arguing about whether women can be priests. As I see it, however, following Christ means embracing the values that he so manifestly preached during his lifetime - those of peace, justice, love and reconciliation and holding dear the liberating theme running throughout the bible, that all God’s people are made in his image and should be treated as such. And if you would claim to be a follower of Christ, but find holding to those values difficult, then, I fear, you have to ask yourself whether you are truly following the word of God or the word of the rulers of this world. For, when those two clash, then we Christians are faced with a necessary choice. I would be genuinely happy to discuss this with anyone who disagrees.

And, of course, there are those people who appear to live by different and conflicting standards at the same time. For instance, nobody knows for sure exactly who St George was, but there is compelling evidence that he was a Palestinian and a refugee. Yet there are some people - and I am choosing my words carefully - some people in this country among the many, who wave the flag of St George about the place, who do so to signify their loathing of, among (many) others, Palestinians and refugees. And the flag of St George is indubitably a Christian sign. Such usage of it is, as far as I can see, simply blasphemous.

Jesus tells us that his yoke is easy and his burden is light. And that is true. Embracing peace is easier than embracing war: embracing love is easier than embracing hatred; embracing justice is easier than fostering a feeling of unfairness and embracing reconciliation is better than stoking division.

If following the values of Christ means that we are on a collision course with the values of this world in general and this country in particular, then so be it. It just means that we need to go out of our way to show that our living a life of peace, justice, love and reconciliation is enriching for the whole of society, and the more people who live by that light, the better society will be.

So, I am happy to be a woke, and if anyone else calls me that, I can assure you that I will rejoice! It will mean that I am trying  all the more to follow in the footsteps of Christ, who would I imagine now be dismissed as a woke, and would rejoice to carry that load..

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