Quaker, writer, and regular contributor Philip Young considers the recent Bishops’ letter, and describes the kind of politics he would like to see.
I welcome the Church of England Bishops’ Pastoral letter of February 17 which outlines the need for a new politics.
The Bishops call for ‘a fresh moral vision of the kind of country we want to be’. What might that new politics with a fresh moral vision look like? Read the Bishops’ letter to find out what they suggest.
The Bishops call for ‘bold new visions of hope and idealism’. Here are my reflections on their thoughts and my vision of a new politics.
Put love at the centre of all
We need to challenge our politicians to put love and care for one another and for our shared Planet at the centre of all that we do. I want us to be able to talk about Love and Politics in the same breath. What we all need is to love and to be loved.
I want to know how our politicians are going to create a society where love and care are encouraged and promoted. This means especially helping those who do not feel loved and cared for at the moment. As the Bishops put it, - ‘the weak, dependent, sick, aged, and vulnerable’ – I would extend this love to everybody so that it is totally inclusive.
How do we care for those who don’t feel included in politics, or those who feel angry and full of hate and want to destroy our democracies? The only way to overcome hate is by love and the more somebody hates the more they are in need of love.
How would politicians transform individual lives so that society itself can be transformed? How do we care for the mentally ill? If politicians want to exclude, or to scapegoat those who are down and out, or those who are different, how is anything going to change?
The Bishops call us to move from a ‘society of strangers’ to a ‘community of communities’. We must befriend the stranger and those who feel excluded so that we become a ‘society of friends’. Being kind to each other and loving each other must become our primary concern.
A move towards equality
We are a very unequal society and we live in a world community, which is even more unequal. In our politics we need to move towards a radical equality. This means that we must root out and vote out those politicians who are looking after themselves and their own self-interest groups. We want politicians to be introducing policies with a bias towards the poor.
As we move towards the election in May let’s vote for a nation and world of equals. We all share the one earth and we are all brothers and sisters, which means that no one group should lord it over another. What we are looking for in our politicians is humility and the desire to serve others.
We are all connected to one another and if one person suffers then we all suffer. We are companions on a shared journey and we all need to help each other along.
A move from war to peace
The more we divide ourselves up into different groups and the more we are in fear of one another, then the more violence and war we shall make. I believe the world is in crisis and that unless we overcome violence with wisdom and love, we shall end up with even more disintegration than we are now experiencing.
Perhaps the violence has to get worse before we come to our senses and choose the path of reconciliation and peace? Blessed are the peacemakers. We need politicians who are peacemakers and each one of us needs to find peace within ourselves.
Let’s hear the politicians say how they intend to promote peace within our broken world. Let’s teach about Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King in our schools and homes. Let’s learn the lessons of South Africa and how to use the process of peace and reconciliation. Let’s learn that our worst enemy is the inner turmoil within each one of us. Let’s learn how to put to death the ego-driven self and to start living for others with love in our hearts.
There is no economic or military program that can bring peace, and so our politicians need to be talking about inner and outer peace. This could not be more urgent or relevant as to how we live our lives in our communities and in our world.
A radically Green government
I am not advocating that we all vote Green although you may decide that is a good idea, but all our politicians need to take seriously the Green agenda. Unless we have politicians who care passionately for our shared Planet then we might as well forget everything else.
The need to live gently with the Earth could not be more urgent. What a beautiful world God has given us all, and, as the Bishops point out, we need, ‘to cherish the created order rather than viewing it as a commodity to be consumed’. Let’s challenge all our politicians to be Green. Let’s vote for politicians who love the Earth.
I thank the Bishops for their letter and I hope we can all take on a new radical agenda to love one another and to love and care for our Planet.
For more on the Biships' letter, click here
Read about Network Norfolk's election coverage here
Philip is an Anglican, Quaker, and a member of the Third Order of Franciscans.
Until July 2014 he was the Diocesan Environmental Officer for the Norwich Diocese. He is now a freelance writer on spiritual and political matters and is currently writing his first book called, ‘Vote for Love’. He is available to give talks, presentations or to preach, and has Permission to Officiate in the Diocese of Norwich and can be contacted at email@example.com
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