Thinking Anew – Integrity will shine forth

 Integrity has no profile when greed makes the decisions, when jealousy runs rife, and when envy is the driver of entitlement.

Integrity has no profile when greed makes the decisions, when jealousy runs rife, and when envy is the driver of entitlement.

 

The shining integrity of Isaiah’s Holy City is appropriate for a city still built in a collapsing world that believes it is entitled to more.

Integrity has no profile when greed makes the decisions, when jealousy runs rife, and when envy is the driver of entitlement.

For all the good we do in our private lives, for all the kindness, effort and work, we are caught in an ugly tide that smashes against our integrity and gradually erodes our joy. It can be hard to individually believe in the promises of the prophets when collectively we would rather build walls than bridges.

A very radical point of Christian faith is the integrity of the individual. This integrity begins with the teaching that every man, woman and child is equally created in the image and likeness of God.

It appeals to our deepest empathy and begs us to find the face of our brother or sister in everyone, including the beggar, the widows and orphans, and the stranger in our midst.

Others are supposed to find empathy with us too. There are many, many people who show genuine empathy, and these are the people we love and respect the most.

Empathy never had a loud voice in the first place and there are very few eulogies that even mention it, although empathy was the bedrock of every loving relationship we ever had. The ability to see the loves, fears, struggles and dreams of another human being is the source of every friendship and companionship we have ever made that has ever really mattered.

The world might not be interested in the personal integrity of any particular individual, and high principles often only rise when the integrity of somebody we can identify with is under attack.

Sometimes being a Christian can seem hopeless – is it even possible that all people will be kind to each other? Maybe it is, and we could well be working towards it.

Suggestions of political correctness are regularly ridiculed. Considering that political correctness is always a plea for empathy, always a suggestion to conscience and always a reminder to respect, this seems tragic. You always know that you’ve hit a guilty nerve in humanity when comedians start to do routines along that nerve, and political correctness has proved to be a fertile field for humour.

Laughter comes when you dangle an uncomfortable truth somewhere near the cutting edge; that border between what I am willing to do and where my willingness stops. Good humour draws people together and breaks down barriers; bad humour is usually called jeering and builds barriers instead.

Quite often the first step for reforming something ridiculous is learning to laugh at it. Making things better, overlooking differences and laughing together is what faith calls joy.

We were wishing each other joy a few weeks ago. Joy, the freedom to enjoy the world as a good place to live, filled with wonder and diversity.

There have always been bogeymen, bogey-neighbours, bogey-tribes, bogey-classes and bogey-faiths but, more voices are laughing at the bogey bits than ever before and, for once, our changing world is actually improving.

People are not as tolerant of jeers and slights against others as we used to be.

That is good; in fact it is great.

The promise of the prophet is that integrity will shine forth and that will bring great joy and that is how it is becoming. As more and more we challenge divisions and share our integrity, joy will come.

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