“When people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing — they believe in anything”
GK Chesterton is often accredited with this famous saying, but it is Emile Cammaerts who wrote it in its current form in “The Laughing Prophets” (1937) – but it is wrong. We live today in a society that is slowly refusing to believe in anything at all and is hugely sceptical and cynical of everyone and everything. When did this happen?
We live in a mostly Godless society, church congregations in the western world are steadily decreasing, but people still need to believe in something or someone to get through life – even if it is just themselves. You just need to look at the news in the last few months to see we are running out of directions to turn when it comes to trusting others; and by losing trust in others we start to question ourselves and our own reliability to make the right choices.
Look at the list of people we no longer hold in high regard or trust: Politicians because of lies and fiddling expenses; the police because they have been complicit in hiding facts from the public from Phone Hacking to Hillsborough; the press because of their refusal to accept responsibility for their actions in hacking and false accusations; bankers because they caused the world’s current financial crisis; the big companies who refuse to pay taxes and support the countries they are based in; our TV & Radio stars who are being revealed as paedophiles, rapists and sexual offenders; Doctors because of the MMR issues; the Middle East because they blow things up; Americans because they demand a gun as a right; Russians because they’re…Russian; atheists tell us the god squad are wrong and the god squad tells us the atheists are wrong – so what are we left with? There is no loyalty in work places – as workers we are statistics on a sheet and as companies they are stepping-stones to the next job. We are all encouraged to shop around for banks, energy suppliers, insurers because no-one is willing to reward a loyal customer.
When did we lose the capacity to trust? We all know that that list is a nonsense and that the vast majority of those in those professions and countries are good decent people, but no we know better! We know that they can’t be trusted. It’s all just one big conspiracy theory by “The Man”. Dr Greg House’s mantra Everybody Lies feels more like the Earth’s Slogan with each day that passes.
Look at your life. You spend time locking the world away with numerous locks on your doors and windows, passwords, house and car alarms, not knowing or speaking to your neighbours – only to try to connect with it again through your computers, phones and tablets. You add someone on Facebook but if you met them in the street you feel awkward and avoid them. Maybe old Thatcher was right – maybe there is no such thing as society? Maybe we are all individuals without direction. What’s the solution? God? No, too divisive and has too many areas we can disagree with. Government? No they are past the point of us believing in them beyond trusting them with laws.
Then that leaves us with each other. Thatcher wasn’t right, we have the capacity as individuals to improve things and make our local communities and wider world a better place to use a cliché. As we have faced these issues we have found solace in like-minded people through the internet in campaigning groups and charities and in local community centres and schools across the country producing decent hard-working kids with visions of creating a better world and groups willing to stand up for those that can’t stand up for themselves. It’s easy to look at the news and only see the negative, but look beyond the headline that sells fear and see the stories that show promise and hope. They do exist, they’re just not going to sell newspapers.
Maybe Martyn Lewis was right all those years ago when he said we need more good news. Last year he pointed out the change in the British outlook with the Olympics and Paralympics bringing joy into our lives on a daily basis and changing g the way we viewed the world. “I have been misunderstood in the past, with people believing I just want more good news at the expense of covering real news. This is not the case, I want a more balanced news agenda, which treats good newsworthy stories in the same way as negative stories.”
The world is an amazing place with amazing people in it and only to consider the worst of humanity is wrong. News should show us a reality both good and bad to reflect how we really are. Look at Facebook and Twitter, after the Boston bombings we all read about Costa Rican immigrant Carlos Arredondo and saw the images of him helping to save the lives of those who had lost limbs by applying pressure or pinching their arteries to save their lives. This was a man who had lost two sons and was an anti-war protester. He became an inspiration overnight as the photos appeared of the aftermath. Focus on the Carlos’s of this world and maybe, just maybe we’ll end up with more people like him than the people who set the bombs. If we talk about the courage and bravery of Vicki Soto who saved her first graders in the Sandyhook school shooting rather than focussing on the evil bastard that did it.
It’s up to us to shape these things and if we accept the negative Fox News and Daily Mail views of the world then it will be a place we don’t have any belief in.