6th August 2021

We were watching an episode of The Equalizer the other night. Maybe you remember that 1980s US cop show? Above average for the genre, if you ask me – not just because it had an Englishman, Edward Woodward, in the lead role, but because it was usually about helping the helpless or righting an injustice. Thoroughly inspiring, even Christian, themes.

There was a youngster in this episode, evicted from their family home after dad lost his job and could not support his family, now living on benefits in a rundown “hotel”. The boy was angry with his father for having to depend on hand-outs, because “we gotta look after ourselves”. These words became the motivation for the father to pick himself up and stand up to the evil landlord. Yet this phrase stuck in my mind for a very different reason. It is just as unchristian as any evil that the Equalizer confronted and yet it is a philosophy that seems to form a bedrock of our culture. “We gotta look after ourselves.”

Listen in contrast to the words of Jesus (if he had been a 1980s New Yorker): “we gotta look after each other” (Mark 12.31). What would the world be like if this were the moral foundation of our life together? Looking after one another, not ourselves. There would be no place for the Equalizer in that world, for all would be treated justly, no one would be in need, the powerful would not abuse the weak, the rich would not take from the poor… What if a few people started to live that way…?

Ian Waddington