Faith & Spirituality

Faith and Politics – Why They Go Hand In Hand

April 26, 2016

I hadn’t planned to write a blog post today, but a news story here in the UK has struck my heart this morning and I felt like I really needed to write about it.

“MPs have voted against an attempt to force the government to allow 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees into the UK from Europe.”

— BBC News

You may be wondering why I am writing about a political story on a blog that is based on spirituality, and for a brief moment I did wonder whether this was the right platform on which to share my thoughts. Faith and politics are both areas in which we all have strong views, which can lead to some pretty heated debates. So it is easy to see why we might be hesitant to mix the two! But when you think about it, how we feel politically is so often influenced by the intrinsic beliefs we hold about what is right and wrong (our sense of ethics or our faith), that to try and separate the two is impossible.

But more than simply arenas in which we can meet opposing views with conflict, faith and politics are also areas in which we can create great change, if only we enter into the conversation with respect for those with alternative views to our own and a willingness to learn from each other. Just look at how many times we have pulled together to meet a need, in ways we couldn’t have done had we stuck to our own “safe” little communities.

Just recently I’ve been watching a fascinating series on the BBC called Paul O’Grady: The Sally Army and Me. As Paul himself states, they seem like an odd team, and yet together they have showcased some of the amazing work that The Salvation Army do all around the world. One show saw Paul heading to Greece to hand out food to refugees there, bringing home a little more of the reality of what is happening in our world today.

Another show saw Paul helping out in a Food Bank, something which an increasing number of families are having to rely on these days and which has been heavily supported by churches (of all denominations) and local communities. These little snippets begin to give us a picture of what faith in action really means – faith is more than having a belief in something, it is about going out and living in a way that exemplifies those beliefs. Whether you are a member of a faith group or not, getting out there and putting whatever you believe into practise is what it’s all about.

Which is why I feel the need to stand up today and speak out once more about the injustice in our world. There are so many things happening in our world today that, whilst impossible to fix overnight, could be improved if only we worked together. It is so easy to feel helpless and like nothing you could do would change anything, but that isn’t true. Every single voice matters, no matter how small, because together we can make a difference. Just look at how many petitions have forced our politicians to rethink their stance on something, purely because enough enough people came together for one cause. One voice may be small, but a thousand voices make a lot of noise!

Looking at the news story that caught my heart this morning, I feel a mixture of both disillusionment and hope. It’s a funny old mix, but it’s one I think we often feel when faced with difficult situations such as these. There are no easy answers, I’m not saying it’s a clear cut case, but that in and of itself actually makes it worth standing up and making your voice heard. Take the following information, for instance:

“On Monday night MPs voted by 294 votes to 276 to reject a plan for Britain to accept 3,000 unaccompanied Syrian child refugees who had travelled to Europe.”

— The Independent

Did you see that – the plan was rejected by 294 votes to 276, that is a tiny margin. It is clear that our MPs are divided about this, which is when it is more important than ever for us to speak up and let them know what we think and feel about it. The Independent actually listed all the MPs who voted against the plan, a list which includes my own MP (I am not surprised, I find I usually disagree with the stance of my MP!) What this means is that I now know that he voted against something I believe we should be considering and that I can write to him about this. It may not change anything, but by doing so I know that I am doing something.

This whole thing reminds me of a poem I wrote last year as part of a blogger campaign with Save The Children using the hashtag #savesyriaschildren. I’ve copied it below for you to read, as it feels as apt today as it did back then. As I wrote in my original post, I felt like I had to do something and as a writer my strongest voice is found in this way. We all have unique gifts, unique ways in which we can create change, and so today I am calling out to you to listen to your heart, find your voice, and get out there to make change. As Ghandi so famously said:

“Be the change you wish to see in the world”

— Ghandi

How Long Must We Wait

How long will it be?
How long must we wait?
Until we understand
this is not our fate?

There are things we can do,
there are things we can say;
we don’t have to stand by
and watch time slip away.

Injustice and cruelty,
pain, famine, and war;
when will we stand up
and shout out “NO MORE“?

When poverty hits us?
When death closes in?
When it happens to us?
When will we begin?

The world needs our voices,
our neighbours need love;
Wouldn’t we want the same
were it happening to us?

Don’t fall for the lies,
filled with anger and fear;
don’t blame the victims
or ban them from here.

Our fate is not sealed
and neither is theirs;
we can make a change,
as long as we care.

So let’s open our hearts,
and speak out with intent.
And make sure that our time
on the earth is well spent.

If we start today,
then tomorrow will change.
And together we’ll find
that love isn’t so strange.

How long will it be?
How long must we wait?
Not long at all,
if we let go of hate.

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