Turning a deaf ear invites chaos - The politics of redemption

This is Easter Monday and Christians will celebrate core, unchanging beliefs: The ideas of redemption and rebirth encapsulated in yesterday’s resurrection rejoicing.

Christians of many hues will celebrate in places as diverse as the Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed — Saint Basil’s in Moscow’s Red Square — and the beautiful, intimate church in Gougane Barra, marking a highlight of the Christian calendar.

Others, living in less tolerant societies, where Christians are a minority, may not celebrate so freely. Some may even pay the ultimate price for religious commitment. The dozens who died in yesterday’s bombing in St Sebastian’s in Katuwapitiya, north of Colombo, in Sri Lanka, fall into that category. 

Many, many more died, almost 200, in a series of bombings carried out by unhinged religious extremists. Hotels were bombed, targetting foreigners.

Coincidentally, though it seems a significant, pertinent one, this is also Earth Day. Environmentalists and conservationists come together in pursuit of a far more temporal kind of redemption and rebirth. 

They hope, by their escalating actions, that it will not be necessary for anyone, or our planet, to rise from the dead. Their concerns are far more immediate and focus on the works of man and how we are slowly, willfully destroying our home planet.

It would be disproportionate to compare the scores murdered in Sri Lanka with the climate activists taking part in the spreading Extinction Rebellion, but both sets of people have beliefs they are prepared to express without fear of consequences, or, in the case of Extinction Rebellion, with a growing fear of the consequences of inaction.

 Climate protestors blocked Dublin’s O’Connell St bridge on Friday, and in London police arrested more than 750 protestors in six days.

The British wing of the movement has warned, “We face a climate and ecological emergency. Now is not the time to be on the wrong side of history”. 

Their view has been endorsed by the great majority of scientists, yet they have been dismissed as cranks, as “the latest version of Marxists” and “lefty” agitators. 

They have been excoriated by those unable, or, more likely, unwilling to contemplate how radically we must change how we live. It is not coincidental that those heads-in-the-sand voices also excoriate France’s persistent gilet juanes and those Ukrainians who, yesterday, seemed poised to elect comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy to replace incumbent president, Petro Poroshenko. 

“I am not your opposition,” Zelenskiy told Poroshenko during a debate, “I am the consequences of your behaviour.”

If these are clarion expressions of discontent, then the weekend poll, showing that, for the first time in almost two years, Fianna Fáil are ahead of Fine Gael, is a minor, slightly off-key, note in that growing cacophony. 

It is very hard to think that Fine Gael’s list of lacklustre, grace-and-favour candidates for hugely significant EU elections has not contributed to this change. 

It is tragic that this growing discontent with those entrusted with animating our democracy, and making it valid, seem so deaf to the needs of today. And, as Dylan warns: “It’s later than you think.”

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