Outrage is all the rage. The internal anger that people instinctively feel about certain things happening (for me those include the election of Donald Trump, the foolishness of Brexit and the subsequent debasement of democratic politics in both countries) has, in social media, found a level of intensity that has destroyed careers, wrecked communities and friendships and given vent to the darkest things (and the most uneducated and thoughtless) that people can think to say.
The wisdom of James 4, when the apostle diagnoses in a few pithy sentences all the ills of the world (you want, you cannot get, so you fight), is like a safe zone for those trying to make sense of all the things to be outraged about. Currently there are plenty of things to generate outrage, the most recent being the withdrawal of what little protection the US had offered the Kurds in northern Syria, the illegal occupation of northern Syria by the Turkish state and the phenomenal level of perverse argument that has come out of the White House and Ankara surrounding it. This morning, in Lamentations, I read this:
I called to my allies, but they betrayed me (Lam 1:19)
Our inheritance has been turned over to aliens, our homes to foreigners (Lam 5:2)
It was moving to read the whole of the book in one sitting and consider and then ask God for help for the Kurdish people as I was doing so.
What is really not worth being outraged by is a fellow-headteacher’s mistaken privacy settings on his Instagram account that led to some “predictable” parental outrage and the picking up (as happened in my case) of a reasonable piece by Sally Murrer in the local rag (MK Citizen) by a bunch of newspapers who should have known better. Every head in England has thought or said the immortal words F**k Ofsted (or similar) either out loud, to themselves or on some social media platform.
(By the way, whole poems have been written about inspectors, not particularly pleasant, but as a means of venting the frustration that comes from the wrong people measuring the wrong things at the wrong time. Some of the better Ofsted jokes are here. Ofsted inspectors are generally well-meaning people, but the organisation they work for has some very suspect roots in a very dodgy, trust-free ideology. We need to find ways to laugh at them, often.)
Along with the sub-human spat between the wives of Jamie Vardy and Wayne Rooney, this instagram post is NOT NEWS. If you have to be outraged at something, look to what is happening to the Syrian Kurds, or to prisoners in northern Nigeria, or the incompetence of our government. And then seek God, the father of the Lord Jesus Christ, for mercy for all of these people, who live and work under a view of a God that is completely inadequate to the task they have set themselves or the circumstances under which they suffer.
Lamentations also contains a warning for countries like the US and the UK who have been stable for a long time:
The kings of the earth did not believe, nor did any of the world’s people, that enemies and foes could enter the gates of Jerusalem. But it happened because of the sins of her prophets and the iniquities of her priests…. (Lam 4:12-13)
There may come a day when we rely on others to help us and defend us from attack from an enemy too strong for us. Instagram posts about trivia at that point will fade into the background.