John Lewis thought that I would be delighted that they had emailed me their new Christmas Advert and friends are sharing it over on Facebook to cheer people up. I may be a party-pooper, but there is something fundamentally depressing about a supermarket advertising Christmas in November, and something that gives me equal disquiet when people think that this will make everything OK again, after the horrors of the USA elections.
I know I’m being over-critical and over-cynical, but part of me wants to shout out that we don’t need diversions and distractions. We need to face head on what is happening in the world. We need to be eyes-wide-open to confront the fear and shock and revulsion.
I don’t know what we can do about things – students have been protesting, social media is buzzing – but there will be something. We have to work out what went wrong. We have to find radical solutions to deliver political engagement and power to the 50% of people who feel side-lined by our elitist institutions. We have to. It is not optional.
Maybe people are too raw to lick their wounds and get back into the battle-field; maybe we didn’t realise that the values we’ve held dear are under siege and we’re needing to fight. Perhaps a bit of saccharine sweetness, a bit of humour, a bit of respite is what we need for now. But we mustn’t let it become an avoidance behaviour: something that diverts us from the difficult things that need to be done. Ultimately that will cause more stress, worry and fear. We need to talk about our fears and address them. This is the only way to move forwards positively.
Once the shock has worn off a bit, and we have got ourselves together, we will do what we always do: pick up the pieces and carry on. We will find love and hope and purpose all over again.
And maybe I’ll watch the John Lewis ad’. But not until December!