16 November 2012
Just after Storm Sandy did its worst on the east coast of America, polling stations swung their doors open. Pre-election rallies had been abandoned, but the election was definitely going ahead. If one eye of the world was on the receding natural storm, the other eye was firmly on the political storm whipped up by the too-close-to-call election of the next president of the United States. The people of America made choices and we now know the results of both storms.
The past weekend gave avid viewers of BBC and ITV1 in the UK another plethora of choices – to save a crop of recently-famous or well-known celebrities from the dreaded dance-off, sing-off or bug-related challenge. Granted, these were perhaps more entertaining than life-changing decisions for the masses but, that said, millions of viewers again made choices and we now know the results of these votes too.
But of all the choices that have popped up on my social media feeds over the past few days, it isn’t the second term of President Obama, or the cost of the east coast clean-up that still has centre stage. Nor is it the demise of the next ‘not saved’ or ‘sent home’ contestant. It isn’t even the speculation of the now-confirmed announcement of who will be the next Archbishop of Canterbury, nor is it that incredible fourth goal scored by Zlatan Ibrahimovic in a ‘friendly’ match against England!
No, the choice that appears like a ticker tape on my computer monitor and which has understandably punctuated almost every news bulletin is the resignation with immediate effect of George Entwistle, after just eight short weeks at the helm of the BBC. The pause of Remembrance Day did little to quieten the swell of the response to this choice of the news which broke on Saturday evening, and the domino effect of colleagues “stepping aside” and acting appointments being swiftly made, all but dwarfed the week in which this world-known and highly-regarded broadcasting giant turned 90.
Life offers choices every day. Some choices are deeply significant to us or to those close to us, while other choices really don’t seem to matter that much in the grand scheme of things. Sometimes, we are helped or encouraged in our choices, and at other times we may feel we have little or no choice left. Whatever the parameters or options, making a choice means taking a decision. Even if that choice is to do nothing, it is a choice, and if timing is everything, then the timing of a choice is critical too.
When Joshua called all the people of Israel together and took a moment to remind them of their history, heritage, purpose and promise, his message was clear: choose today (see Joshua 24:15). Joshua’s appeal lets them know that the time to reflect or consult is past, and they now have a personal and corporate responsibility to choose wisely, choose well and to choose in time. For George and others in the news this week, choices have now been made, and I have chosen to pray with and for those affected. But I can’t help but wonder how different our news might be today if alternative and possibly tougher choices were made, and sooner. Just as votes after polling day make no difference to the outcome of an election, just as calls to voting lines ‘will not be counted but may still be charged’, just as goals scored after the whistle has been blown at the end of a game don’t count, neither does a delayed choice. Choose today.
Rev Katei Kirby, partnership officer at the Methodist Church