2015 General Election: You can still make a difference!

With the majority of constituency results announced it is clear that we will be seeing a Conservative formed government.  The polls leading up to yesterday’s election had the Tories and Labour neck and neck but I was expecting that many of our population would put an X by their Conservative candidate within the privacy of the voting booth.  We’re a rich country which means those in work will always be fairly comfortable and it’s difficult for people to vote against that and to stick up for the vulnerable.

I’m disappointed.  However, political involvement is not limited to voting in a General Election.  We all have a new or a newly re-elected MP who is accountable to us, the same goes for our local Councillors.  Engage with your MP and with your Councillors, get to know them and ensure they make your voice heard.  Even if they don’t represent your political views they are still your public servant.

There are also opportunities for those who feel powerless in an election to come together and make a collected voice heard through marches, letter writing and other peaceful protests.  If you feel helpless now then resolve to continue to campaign for the issues that are important to you.

Personally, I am most gutted for those who are more vulnerable for various reasons – the young, the elderly, the poor, the homeless, the unemployed, the disenfranchised, the asylum seeker, the looked after children, the disabled, those with mental illness, the addicts…..  These categories don’t generally vote Conservative, if they vote at all, and will undoubtedly be further down trodden.  If this bothers you then get ready to serve these people in your local community.  They may not be able to rely on their government for support and empowerment but they must be able to rely on their neighbours.

We spend a lot of time talking about our politicians but even once elected they do not have to be the ones who direct and shape our country.  Stand up and make a difference!

May 7th…..Remember the poor

Where will you put your X on May 7th?  How are you going to decide?

If you have a secure job and want what is best economically for you then without doubt you should be voting Conservative.  You won’t go wrong with Labour or Lib Dem either.  If you are comfortable now then stick with the political establishment and nothing is going to change much – the colour flying over Downing Street might be different but our social landscape will remain the same.

However, if your desire is to see the poorest and most vulnerable in our society protected and empowered then maybe think of an alternative to the political establishment – and I’m not talking about the purple migrant bashers.  I would suggest that if you have a care and hope for those excluded from society then consideration should be given to a Green or Independent vote or maybe a spoiled ballot.

As a follower of Jesus I cannot bring myself to vote for my own needs and comforts.  “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4)  If you love Jesus, if you love your fellow human – then don’t waste your vote selfishly.  Maybe you will come to a different political conclusion to me but do vote with your conscience.

West Bromwich vicar, Neil Robbie, has written a great and succinct post commenting on political thought processes with a different twist on who the poor could be.  Definitely worth a read for just 1 minute of your time.

If you have an hour then do invest it in listening to the late Simon Pettit’s biblical mandate for the poor.  This was recorded in 1998 and was a real watershed moment for the Newfrontiers famly of churches that I belong to – it provides a great introductory foundation on Christian teaching regarding the poor.

Election and Poor

Tolstoy’s Resurrection Part 2: Turning a Blind Eye to Suffering

The work done by Comic Relief is brilliant.  For one night only it manages to turn the apathetic and uncaring British public into compassion filled givers of cash.  Yet I think we would agree that the good will generated through Comic Relief is a bit of an annual one off for some, and certainly the zenith of the year’s compassion levels for the rest.

Even the heart-wrenching videos of a boy band crying in an African hospital struggle to provoke more than a skin deep reaction in us – we are genuinely moved, we give a little, yet we continue to live our lives in a manner that sustains and exacerbates the horrific levels of poverty just a few hours plane ride away.

In Resurrection, Tolstoy dismantles the ethics of middle and upper class Russian society about 120 years ago.  The reader is introduced to character after character who do absolutely nothing to challenge the culture that celebrated in the economic and sociological structures that kept the rich rich yet produced millions of deaths through disease and starvation.  Even those who saw the pain, and were even moved by it, could bring themselves to do nothing to change.

My prayer for myself is that I would have open eyes and an open heart to the pain and struggle around me and that I would act on the emotional feelings I experience and actually act in compassion, instead of continuing to turn a blind eye, just to keep myself feeling better.

Do you want to do the same?  If so then right now STOP, and pray for God to transform your heart.

Racism and Propaganda

Just a quick post with a couple of examples of the huge mountain of propaganda and racism that stands between the people of Israel and Palestine and a peaceful co-existence.

  1. The first example is a story recently published in Israel’s oldest daily newspaper.  It describes how Israelis (who are occupying Palestinian land) have persuaded the army to prevent Palestinians (with legal work permits) to board the same buses as them and there are plans for the Palestinians to be provided with separate buses.  This should really set alarm bells ringing – have we seen segregation on public transport anywhere before?  See the report here.
  2. The second example is a shocking report by an Israeli organisation that observe the messages that Palestinian children receive from their media.  Palestinian Media Watch report that during the 8 day conflict Hamas broadcast disturbing ideological messages to the people of Gaza, the tamest of which is ‘Killing Jews is worship that draws us close to Allah.’  If you’re interested in the full report click here.

There’s a long way to go to genuine peace and genuine justice…..

Justice in the Riots

All this violence and anarchy gets my sense of justice swinging from one extreme to another.  I see the pictures of kids running wild with utter disrespect and self-indulgence and my anger gets my mind thinking about corporal punishment and retribution.  Then in my calmer moments I think of the individuals within the masses and the neglect that must have gone into their lives to send them to such actions.  Are we not all to blame?  And we not reaping the harvest of allowing the values of society to evaporate?

Part of me wants to cage them all like the animals they are acting like.  Leave the cages out in the elements for a few months in the middle of town.  Let the public mock them, beat them, humiliate them.  We might feel better for a while but it ain’t gonna heal the hurts of the community.

What would justice look like right now?

The injustice of bin Laden’s death

So Osama bin Laden is (allegedly*) dead.   ‘Justice has been done’ claim many.  I think the killing of any man is a warped view of justice.  It is not justice – it is revenge.  And in this case may well lead to reciprocal killings from extremists.

My opinion is that true justice is about reconciliation.  I doubt very much that the killing of Osama bin Laden will make the world a safer place – it will just deepen the rift between the West with our superiority complex and Islamic extremists.  I wouldn’t want to claim for a second that resolution is simple, or even possible, but I strongly believe that it is wrong to celebrate the death of anyone.

* Sorry how ridiculous that his body was buried at sea because USA is so respectful of his belief he should be buried within 24 hours….very, very convenient.

Spot the difference

Scenario 1:

A man is left by his wife in October.  By December he’s seriously depressed and drinks too much at the office Christmas party.  On his way home he loses control of his BMW and crashes into a wall.  He is cut free from the car with abdominal and leg injuries, spends 3 days in hospital and is disqualified from driving for 12 months and receives a £240 fine for drink driving.

Scenario 2:

A man is left by his wife in October.  By December he’s seriously depressed and drinks too much at the office Christmas party.  On his way home he loses control of his BMW, hits and kills a 63 year old lady who is out walking her dog and crashes into a wall.  He is cut free from the car with abdominal and leg injuries, spends 3 days in hospital and is sentenced to 6 years in prison for causing death by dangerous driving whilst under the influence of drink.