NOTE: The following post includes many references to the PBS Masterpiece Theater drama “Downton Abbey.”
I believe it is inevitable. Despite the plot twists and character turns of the period piece melodrama, I believe I can predict one thing about Downton Abbey:
The character I dislike the most, will NOT die.
Before you write me off as some fanatical Thomas-hater. Or wish to pray for my spiteful heart that I might learn to show O’Brien some love… hear me out!
The character I show no pity for is a hidden one. Those who count themselves as Downton-ites have grown to love the two worlds that are on constant display. The Crawley family encounters one “dilemma” and “inconvenience” after another, and we watch in awe at their silly troubles as they fumble over how to manage in a world with less dinner coats and fewer occasions for garden parties. All the while, the servants bustle around the basement, working their coat tails off and slaving over crumpets, in the midst of dealing with more relatable episodes of drama.
And every so often, those two worlds collide. A footman shows superior character over an Earl. A housemaid wins our allegiance over a countess. We are entertained most when the playing field is leveled. We are captivated when the hidden character of inequality is undermined!
Inequality is the hidden character I refer to. And it is inequality whose demise I hope for!
Unfortunately for me, I know how this story will end. While the seemingly ridiculous social constructs of early twentieth-century aristocracy will indeed fall apart in the Downton narrative, we know that after 100 years since the sinking of the Titanic (the epic beginning event of the Downton story), inequality persists.
While the inequality of the world looks different today, it is no less obvious. And just as depicted in Downton Abbey, it maintains its faux paux status. People don’t like to consider a world of true equality. What would that mean for you and me? While we stand aghast at the ignorance of our favorite Dowager Countess and her resistance to a shifting society, how quick are we to embrace a more equitable world if it means giving up our proverbial silver spoons or iPads?
The topic of inequality is not new to those fighting poverty.
The United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are set to conclude in 2015. One of the goals was to halve the number of people living in extreme poverty (making an income of less than $1.20 a day). And while the world is on track to accomplish this goal, we are far from creating a world of opportunity… of equality… of hope… when more than one-third of the world’s population lives on less than $2.00 a day.
This is less a political statement, and more an expression of biblical worldview. This is about giving people a chance to live out their God-given potential. It’s about living out the Gospel as Jesus asked us to.
So just as we get excited when a maidservant is given an opportunity to advance beyond the grips of Downton, we should also get excited about supporting pathways to prosperity and sustainability for the world’s most vulnerable. We at Food for the Hungry get excited about this opportunity.
So at the end of it all… I put myself to the test, and took the quiz to determine which Downton Abbey Job is right for me! I’m officially an Isobel Crawley. As a dude, that’s sort of awkward.
Which character are you?