We must transform our politics…and our hearts
Regular columnist Philip Young is convinced that the only solution to acts of terrorism, such as those in Tunisia last week, lies in a complete transformation of our thinking.
The world is in a mess. It is becoming a scarier place. Unless there is a complete transformation, it is difficult to see how things can get better.
We live in fear of terrorism, and there seems to be no place in the world which is completely safe. A city like Paris, or a beach in Tunisia have been, up until now, places where everyone could feel safe. No longer so.
And it seems there are no longer any easy answers. David Cameron talks about the ‘existential threat’ of terrorism, which presumably means he is saying that it has become part of our everyday existence. We have a problem and it is one that concerns us all.
If we are to succeed we have to tackle this one together. It is our shared problem. The problem is one of human nature. Unless we can transform human nature, then the problem will persist. David Cameron calls it the ‘struggle of our generation’. In other words it is our challenge and our struggle and it will take time and courage to move towards a solution.
We will not solve the problem by fighting on a physical level or by having more security arrangements put in place. The problem is a spiritual and moral one and can only be solved with a moral and spiritual response.
I want to suggest that there will be no transformation of religion or society without a transformation of the heart.
The terrorists are hard-hearted unfeeling people who are willing to kill and maim in the name of religion. As David Cameron points out this is a perversion of a great religion. The hard hearts need to be replaced by hearts of flesh. This is the promise of all right minded religion.
The Prophet Ezekiel put it well: ‘A new heart I will give you and a new spirit I will put within you and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.’ (Chapter 36 verse 26)
At this point we have to ask ourselves what is the best response to the hard-heartedness of the terrorists? If we respond with a hard heart then we just make a bad situation worse and we heap hatred upon hatred and spiral downwards towards more violence. I want to plead for us to find together a better way.
The way of love leading to peace. What could it mean for the world to explore this way together? We have Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King showing us the power of non-violence and the time is ripe for us to explore this as a solution to our present terrorism.
What I am suggesting is that the best in religion always puts love at the centre and that in order to transform our religion and our society it is necessary to attempt to put love at the very centre of everything we do.
We have to start with ourselves. We have to root out the hard heartedness in us and replace it with love. We do not struggle alone in this because it is God’s desire that we should become like Him. In fact all we have to do is to say ‘no’ to continuing in our hard heartedness and invite God to do the work of transformation in us. It is really that easy. God is just waiting for us to say ‘Yes’ and to be receptive to his love, which is all around us.
When we act from that place of love and transformation then we can renew our politics and our society. Can you catch a vision of what politics would be like if love was at the centre? It would mean that care for each other and care for our shared planet would become what drives our lives and our society.
If we can transform our own hearts with love then we can begin to renew our politics. This is indeed a great challenge as much of our politics is driven by fear and self-interest. If our response to terrorism is based on fear and self-interest then it will be a problem for many generations to come. The challenge for us is to change our politics by changing ourselves. The renewal and transformation of our hearts is the beginning of wisdom and it is only with a great deal of wisdom that we can overcome terrorism.
In the end the only force strong enough to defeat terrorism is love. Jesus showed us the way of love overcoming all hatred. Our hearts will be transformed if we follow His way.
The machine gun image is courtesy of Michal Zacharzewski at http://www.freeimages.com/
Philip is an Anglican, Quaker, and a member of the Third Order of Franciscans. He has recently moved to Felixstowe. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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