Even though many in our secular society are not familiar with the Biblical story of David and Goliath, if asked to name a Goliath or giant Canada is facing many would point to the United States. With ten times the population and incredible wealth and military might, the US can pretty much do as it pleases in the world and has many weapons, economic, social and military, to “deal with” any opposition. The emphasis on individualism, personal liberty and free trade has left many of their governments myopic, unable to see beyond their own interest. In a trade skirmish with them back in the ‘50s, Tommy Douglas is remembered as characterizing the US position as “’Every [one] for themselves,’ said the elephant as he danced among the chickens!”
More currently, in the face of the US authorities taking children from asylum seekers and placing them in detention cages, many outside the US are left feeling relatively helpless to address their neighbours cruelty. While there are always some ways of protesting from a distance, their effectiveness is limited to say the least.
Facing Goliath the army of Israel was terrified and none of their soldiers were willing to accept the challenge to fight one on one. Finally the small, young David volunteered to take on the giant, and eschewing King Saul’s in appropriate armour, took his frail sling and one of five smooth stones and brought Goliath down with one well aimed shot! Victory was claimed by Israel as the Philistine army fled.
There are some clues here to facing down our own fearsome giants – each of us has our own and they leave us feeling helpless and defeated. David tossed aside Saul’s armour as it did not fit him. How often do we look to others for “armour” and “arms”? Instead of fighting Goliath on the giant’s terms, David goes with what he knows: skills he has learned and tools he is familiar with. The main “weapons” David has are faith in God who has been his companion while tending and protecting the flocks, alone and in the wild and his love of God, his life and his people. Faith gives us courage and, as the First Letter of John points out in the Bible, love casts out fear.
Facing down our giants is never easy and there are many approaches that may or may not work. When we look to what we have, who and whose we are, our beliefs and values we can discover that we are better equipped that we think. I heard the other day that President Trump had to back down (although not completely) from his stand on taking asylum seekers children from them not because of street protests or Facebook rants but when he realized that he was losing support from Republican women. Because it was about children, women in particular were able to step outside their party line, see beyond the rhetoric and threaten to vote with their feet. Giant killers? Perhaps not but they were at least able to bring about some change from a President who usually becomes more defiant and determined in the face of criticism.