No, not the drink. Though I drink too much of it.
Nor the song by Hillsong. Though it’s an okay song.
Neither any of the several films with that title, from the 1948 western to the human trafficking story of 2015 – never seen any of them, not even the one that has Breakfast Club hero Judd Nelson starring as the serial killer ‘son of a crazed Los Angeles supercop’ although that sounds like a classic! NOT!
No, it’s the relentless news …
I saw a tweet a while back that read, “BBC to replace ‘Breaking News’ tag with ‘Oh God, what now?!’” and I found myself both laughing and agreeing with the sentiment. Most of the news recently seems overwhelmingly awful, negative, heartbreaking, scary, tumultuous … it’s gone beyond the point where you feel like House of Cards was a documentary, or that Game of Thrones is a thinly veiled political analogy. Now it just feels relentless.
Just to bring us up to speed with what I mean …
There’s been an attempted coup in Turkey; we’ve seen yet more young black men killed by cops and the dreadful sniper ‘retaliation’ that somehow has empowered swivel-eyed, bile-spewing, FoxNews types to forward the idea that Black Lives Matter is a terrorist organisation. A maniac ploughs through crowds celebrating freedom and eighty four are left dead and the world #PraysforNice, ninety civilians killed in Syria ‘by mistake’ but there’s no trending hashtag whilst Russian and Syrian forces attempt to bomb Aleppo into oblivion.
The UK government dithers about what to do about Brexit as the pound does its best lemming imitation over the nearest financial cliff and Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition seem to be retreating into an uncivil war. Mind you, MPs can somehow find the time to vote to spend up to 167 billion pounds on a weapon system that has done, and will do, absolutely nothing to deter the asymmetric warfare that dominates current global conflicts …
A Hurricane rips through Haiti, killing near a thousand but right wing shock jocks still claim global warming is a lefty conspiracy along with the moon landings, 9/11 and the fact that Paul McCartney is an impostor!
And, just to rub salt in the wounds we have the spectacle of a Republican nominee for President who is surely starring in Casey Affleck’s “I’m Still Here Volume 2.”
But then, is it?
I’m coming to the conclusion that as bad as it all is – there’s far more going on than the news services are actually telling us; don’t get me wrong, I’m no conspiracy theorist when it comes to the media – to me it is a simple equation, they have ratings to gain, papers to sell, advertising revenue to chase … modern news is about the cycle, the event, the spectacle … very rarely is it about the actual news.
I’m also aware that my own liberal, middle class socialist leanings push me towards Huffpost et al for my news input – I hope that by being aware of my personal bias it allows me to moderate it (Or not! Boris Johnson is the Foreign Secretary, for crying out loud!!!!)
But, despite the relentlessness of the news, the crushing weight of it and the endless commentary upon it, I am absolutely certain that whatever it is they’re telling us, it isn’t the whole story…
Because there’s another story … and I don’t mean those stories that turn up at the end of the news bulletins to try and convince us that, although you’ve just heard that the world is going to hell in a handcart, everything will be okay because there’s a skateboarding bulldog in Cleethorpes! These cute stories are there to mollify the harsh realities or to persuade us that everything is okay; like J.K. Rowling writes in Order of the Phoenix “If they had reached waterskiing budgerigars, there would be nothing else worth hearing.”
This other story might not create attention grabbing headlines, it doesn’t bring salacious scandal, it won’t inflate the viewing figures, it won’t be subject to the water cooler conversations or endless dissection in the press … but it is real and it too is relentless.
It’s not even the ‘obvious’ story that you might think would come from a blog entitled Red Setter Christian; I don’t mean the story of Jesus, His life, death and resurrection; I don’t mean the Gospel story; I don’t mean the story of God in History etc., I don’t mean any of those things – although I think they’re vital narratives and stories that create and sustain life and hope. And, I don’t mean the stories around the vigils and heartfelt responses to the tragedies we’ve seen in Nice and in Germany and throughout the world, as valid and needed as valuable as they are.
What I’m talking about is the quietly relentless stories that you and I live amongst.
I see this relentless story in the relentless love that I witness in friends who cherish and celebrate their autistic child for the wonder that she is; I see this story in the relentless hope shown by friends who work with CAP debt counselling charity; I see this story in the relentless joy that I see in the faces of young kids just playing together with no notion of, or interest in, the colour of each others’ skins; I see this relentless story in the persistence of a friend whose photographs are now being picked up by Getty images after years of self doubt and self discovery as an artist; I see this story – this relentless story – in the casual hugs I get from my hulking sixteen year old son, “Just because;” I see this story in the quiet dedication of colleagues working to educate and inspire the next generations; I see it everywhere … when I remember to look.
For me it’s the parallel to something the Apostle Paul said, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”
And that’s it you see – you just have to remember to look. Then you can remember to be relentless in your refusal to succumb to the ‘news’ and instead be relentless in thinking about what really matters, be relentless in your love, be relentless in your hope, be relentless in your joy, be relentless in your persistence, be relentless in your dedication and be relentless in your ‘Just because.’
Be relentless in thinking about those simple, unsung, humble, real and relentless things that make the next day one worth facing without fear and desperation. Be relentless in facing the next day full of faith, hope and love