Why no one should have been shocked that Trump won.

This last week has been the most fascinating week in international politics that I’ve seen. Donald Trump, the guy we all laughed about, actually won.man-with-mouth-taped-shut

The fallout has been extraordinary. Opinions and emotions run high as the western world teeters on the brink. The unthinkable has happened, and suddenly the future is unpredictable.

On the radio after the election, I heard an American assert his belief that everyone was shocked. Even the Trump supporters weren’t expecting a victory. I found myself wondering: how could this happen?

It’s not the first time. People were shocked over Brexit, and continue to be shocked over our own Australian election results. Surely these things should be predictable?

I see one key reason why they’re not: people convey different opinions in the quiet safety of the polling booth, from those they’re willing to own on the street.

The leftist ‘majority’ is consistently stunned when votes swing to the right; they’re left floundering, wondering how the results could be wrong. Well maybe they’re not wrong. Maybe those of the right-wing persuasion aren’t saying what they think, or maybe the media isn’t reporting it.

Maybe a whole portion of our society is being shut up (because they’re not P.C.) and it’s creating an illusion of consensus that just isn’t right. The thing about democracy, though, is that this silent multitude still gets to vote, and they’re shocking the world when they do.

The shock shouldn’t have happened, because, had we listened, we would’ve known it was coming.

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What not to do when you travel to another country

10435070_10152346014383143_5684411763653682514_nA couple of weeks ago I was in Mataranka, a tiny town south of Darwin famous for its hot springs. Tourist spots like this draw people from all around the world and it’s not wonder with the clear, warm water and natural foliage draped overhead.

As we swam, I overheard a Swiss couple, probably in their mid sixties, speaking in German. Knowing that one of the greatest things about travelling is the opportunity to speak to people from all around the world, I struck up a conversation with them in German. My Aussie/German friend Nelly soon joined in, and we heard all about their trip around Australia.

Perhaps they felt comfortable with us, speaking their own language, but it wasn’t long before they were expressing some strong opinions about what they’d seen. Our country quickly came under attack as they expressed their disgust at the living conditions, treatment and segregation of our Indigenous people. They capped it off with a stinging assessment: They’d travelled all over the world, and never seen anything as bad as what they’d seen here.

Having just driven across the country feeling these same concerns myself, I felt chastised and ashamed but also annoyed at their condescension.

Despite all they may have seen, they had not walked a mile in our shoes. I was challenged to recognise the privilege it is to be welcomed in to a country that is not my own, and to accept what it offers, without handing out my judgements and criticisms.

When Christmas isn’t Joyous

homelessAt Christmas time, we’re assailed by songs that tell us that it’s the ‘most wonderful time of the year.’ We are encouraged to revel in the excitement of food and family and presents and general boisterous chaos.

For many however, Christmas is one of the most difficult times of the year; a time when loneliness and poverty are exacerbated; when spending a quiet night eating a tin of baked beans is not only lonely, but excruciatingly painful.

My heart goes out to those who are poor and alone on Christmas, and as the church, we should be reaching out to them, but I can’t help wondering whether Christmas’ ability to be devastating is evidence that we’ve really missed the point.

Who was more poor or alone on Christmas night than Mary and Joseph themselves? And yet the entire reason that we sing of it as the most joyous and holy of all nights, is that Jesus, the savior of the world, was born.

Secular society has made Christmas all about friends, family, presents and food, isolating people who don’t have these things. But that is never what it was supposed to be about. It was about God coming to earth in human form, in the loneliest and poorest of ways, to dwell with us and save us from ourselves. If this is really our focus at Christmas, it can be a time of great joy for everyone, even, or dare I say especially, for those who don’t fit society’s mold.