When the joke goes wrong…

IMG_8880It’s election day here in Scotland and that means that Thought for the Day has to be about something else…so why not talk about a different election in a different country and reflect on God’s wisdom in the process. Not many of us would claim to be wise, especially not a professional fool, but here are some thoughts. As usual, you can listen again here by scrolling through to 01:23:17, or you can read the text here:

It’s never good when a joke goes wrong. This year Google had to issue an apology for an April Fool that led to people missing important emails and, in some cases, losing work. The Natural Environment Research Council probably thought that asking the public to name their latest research ship was a great wheeze until they realised they may have to launch Boaty McBoatface in 2019. And now, Donald Trump has won the Republican Party nomination and many people who started off enjoying jokes about ‘The Donald’ are no longer laughing.

With his aggressive one-liners on immigration, women’s rights and religious minorities, Trump appears to have tapped into a seam of anger lying deep within the economically challenged American heartland. There’s nothing new there. History demonstrates that when the thin veneer of prosperity cracks, a lurking fear of “the other” is revealed. So, when a strong personality comes along and “says it like it is” he gives permission for that latent fear to be unleashed, even when “saying it like is” often has no bearing in truth. Online searches on ‘How to move to Canada’ spiked across the USA after Super Tuesday. For many Americans, the thought of President Trump is not funny any more.

With elections closer to home today, many of us are reflecting on the responsibility we hold to make wise choices.  There’s a Proverb that says “Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you.” In these days, more than ever, wisdom is a prized commodity – it’s not the same as knowing all the facts, or even forming a strong opinion. True wisdom grows in the soil of experience, humility and selflessness.

The book of James in the New Testament states that “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” We would do well to seek wisdom in these coming days in the large and small choices we make, not least to ensure the joke is not on those who come after us.