Stephen D’Evelyn on All Souls and Trumpism

Today is the feast of All Souls. It falls in a season when we may have haerd about the Day of the Dead and the large-scaled public celebrations in Mexico City inspired by a recent James Bond film or the ancient Celtic holiday of Samhain. It also falls this year towards the end of the U.S. Presidential campaign.

All Souls is an occasion energized by love in peculiar contrast to our most common modes of order, chance and will. For at All Souls the Church explicitly celebrates those who are gone, those who have least purchase on power. Instead we enact and celebrate the community of open-ended history. Putting it that way may sound like sectarianism or tribalism. To me, All Souls offers a repost to tribalism. It affirms that what binds is not categories of power and exclusion, not chance and will, but generosity, a bigheartedness that sees beyond the present while delighting in each moment.

if there is more at work than tribalism, chance, and will in the workings of human beings and of being itself, then we may be called to behave towards each other and the origin of being in ways other than sheer will. Instead we may find an ethics, a metaphysics — a religious practice — of letting be.

This is particularly important to disability. In a world view defined by will, the strongest actors are the self-appointed actors of justice. But this justice is of course not the justice of defending the marginalized, evening things up, but of giving more to those who have more. Disability is defined by those who control culture and its norms. Disabled people therefore inevitably become marginal in systems of will.

As the US Presidential election approaches, it is all the more important to keep the problem of will in view. Mr Trump is a wheeler and dealer in will. His vision of power has widely been critiqued as lacking an understanding of pluralism. Putin’s praise is not misplaced. So as we sweep up the Halloween candy wrappers and consider the dead, let us remember the origins of being in letting be. Let us try to let there be forms of society and politics that enable love.

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