I have intentionally steered clear from political topics in this blog. Yet, just like many in this season, I found myself needing to say something given the unique political moment the US is undergoing at this point. For starters, as an immigrant and strong believer in international cooperation, it is not too difficult to know where I stand on the current administration. Moreover, as an evangelical Christian, I lament our group’s support for Trump’s person and agenda. Simply put, the gospel that saved me is not compatible with political ideologies that foment fear, division and scapegoating of minorities.
Yet, this blog is NOT another rant against Trump. In fact quite the opposite. My main point here is to demonstrate how, regardless of his bombast and noise, he does not define the future of our nation and the global community. This became clear two weeks ago, when the president decided to leave the Paris Accord. Soon after, large corporations, states and city governments defied the administration’s stance by re-affirming their commitment to the goals put forth in the international agreement. While the president holds remarkable power and influence, his reach has limits.
Centers of Power
Reflecting on this brings me back to my undergraduate studies in Political Science. Then, I remember studying about the dynamic interplay of centers of powers. In this framework, even in the most authoritarian regimes, power is never fully centralized. Instead it is distributed in societies through many centers of power. These are institutions like foundations, think tanks, political parties, business associations and other interest groups. Any political leader, whether they like it or not, depend on these actors to govern. When a politician loses key support, he or she cannot effectively govern. President Trump is no exception to this rule and to understand his actions, one must also understand the interests groups that brought him to power.
While this is true, the limits of this view is that it focuses only in powers that manifest themselves politically. Yet, there are many other actors that may not hold overt political power yet still can exert tremendous influence in a society. Examples of this would be business conglomerates in sectors like communication, energy, technology and education. Our future may very well be decided in boardroom meetings of these companies where new products and services are being discussed.
The Power of Narrative
In our time, an even more formidable power is narrative itself. That is, the ability to control how to explain our world. In 2017, more than ever before, there is a collusion between communication (media) and political powers that are selling the narrative that “the political is the ultimate.” This narrative wants to convince us that the defining events of history are coming from the halls of Washington, DC. The president makes a policy announcement (or send a ridiculous tweet) and the media is all over it either defending it or expressing disgust over it. Either way, the narrative is reinforced that the political takes precedence over all other narratives.
This blog has focused on an alternative narrative. Frankly, in a time where politics offers little hope, it is refreshing to follow the narrative of technological progress. Here you hear stories about possibilities, positive change and improvement. There are also aspects that cause fear, distress and anxiety. Yet, the dominant sentiment (at least to me) is of hope. We are living in a time of unprecedented technological breakthroughs many of which could change life as we know it for the better.
The train has left the station for technological innovation. This train will not stop unless we experience another “Black Swan” event (a rare catastrophic event that changes everything i.e.: 9/11 Attack on the Twin Towers). For now, the party or person that sits in power will have little effect in the march towards an AI-saturated world. Thus, understanding how to bend this trend towards the good of humanity is to me more consequential than fighting for political change. This does not diminish the work of political activism, just displaces it from a place of ultimate importance.
Finally, for those who pledge allegiance to Christ, there is no ultimate narrative other than the gospel itself. The Christ follower will understand the world through the lens that believes that new life is possible even after death. That is the hope that has driven the faithful for centuries and continues to drive them today. We are certainly living in times of great political uncertainty and unprecedented technological change. Yet, ultimately, for the Christian, none of that is more important than the death and resurrection of Christ. It is on this narrative of hope that we stand and understand everything else. Our job is to uncover how this narrative of death and resurrection is playing out within the current trends we live today. Not an easy task for sure, but one that promises eternal rewards.