Connecting with Culture
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‘One rule for them, another for us.’
So said the many placards waved by angry Australians, outraged that an unvaccinated tennis player was potentially being allowed into a country that has endured more lockdowns than most places on earth.
You’d hear the same accusation in Westminster, where revelations of lockdown parties have become a nightmare from which Boris Johnson can’t wake up. Those who govern seemingly refusing to follow the same laws as those who are governed.
And, most severe of all, you might also hear it outside the New York courthouse where Prince Andrew faces sexual assault charges. A powerful man with royal status allegedly abusing a 17-year-old woman before trying, and failing, to avoid trial.
The fury aroused by all three stories comes from the same underlying principle: no-one, no matter how rich, powerful, or talented, should be above the law. Instead, people in positions of influence should set an example for, even serve, the rest of us.
But where does this idea – this gut-level intuition about what’s fair and just – come from?
Well, first of all, it’s embedded in the Old Testament law. In a command that would seem ludicrous to other rulers of neighbouring nations at the time, God requires the Israelite king to follow the law, ‘and not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites’ (Deuteronomy 17:20). Even the universal ruler, King Jesus, didn’t exploit his divine nature but rather chose to serve (Philippians 2:6–7).
We can hope that, at least in these cases, the powerful may be held to account. Whatever the outcomes of lawsuits and inquiries, we can celebrate where justice is done, where wrongful actions have consequences.
And what about the rest of us, on our frontlines? As well as pointing our angry neighbour to the biblical root of their rage, we can choose to use our power to serve others. Because as much as we lament selfish or wicked actions, we also praise examples of selfless sacrifice and integrity. Just think of the contrast between the party on 16 April and the Queen, choosing to sit alone at her husband’s funeral a day later.
As much as we want to lambast those who flaunt rules, and celebrate when justice floods a situation, perhaps this is also an opportunity to reflect on our daily choices. Following our King’s example, how might we serve with love and empathy on our frontlines this week?
Editor, Connecting with Culture
Andrew Image – Flickr, Novak Image – Twitter/@DjokerNole