playground politics

Picture of Childrens Playground - Free Pictures - FreeFoto.com

A long time ago I upset our local MP by posting a bloggage that revealed how he had voted against a motion that highlighted the issue of the growth in demand for foodbanks. You can see it here if you want, and it led to a lengthy correspondence with him (he was still unhappy at the end of it). But it was an unusual occurrence because although I consider myself to be a political person and have strong opinions about many issues, I don’t tend to post them here. But it may be time to upset some more politicians…

And it’s because of playground politics.

I would like to think that those who enter politics do so in order to serve the country. I would like to think that those who enter politics do so particularly to care for those who are weakest and most vulnerable in our society. I would like to think that those who seek office do so in order to make a positive difference. And I am sure that if you asked any politician whether this is the case they would respond positively (or if not they would evade the question by answering a different one they would rather have been asked).

But increasingly to me it appears as if many politicians are acting in the interests of their party rather than the interests of the country, and some are even acting in the interests of their own political ambitions above even the interests of their party! How can that serve the interests of those who are most vulnerable and marginalised?

There are all sorts of allegations being made about lies and broken promises by each of our political parties and by the different sides of the EU referendum but the level of disingenuous rhetoric that I perceive is greater today than at any other time. One of the most obvious examples is the ¬£350million for the NHS promised on the side of the notorious bus was an outright lie and nobody now is making that promise. It really bothers me that some of the leading Brexit politicians in this country are busy squirreling their wealth overseas while telling us that there’s nothing to worry about.

But what really bothers me is when politicians (in the UK and USA) label opposing views with a blanket phrase that allegedly discounts them immediately without engaging in the issues being raised. So in this country any criticism of the Brexit plans (or lack thereof) is labelled ‘Project Fear’ and by doing so the criticisms can be ignored in one fell swoop. In the USA criticisms are labelled ‘Fake News’ in the same way. And people believe this because they trust the politicians. If we let our politicians get away with this we may not be surprised if we eventually find that they have removed any sense of personal or corporate accountability for their actions.

It feels like the playground when a child’s taunt would receive responses like, “I’m rubber, you’re glue: whatever you say you say bounces off me and sticks to you.” Or the annoying constant retort, “I know you are, but what am I?”

So what can we do?

Write to your MP when there’s an issue that concerns you. You can send them an email through https://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/contact-your-mp/ They are obliged to write back. And if the answer is unsatisfactory, write again. You can use the same process to write directly to the Prime Minister or any other politician (email addresses are firstname.surname.mp@parliament.uk).

Join campaigning groups.

Join with others who want to make a difference to their community in groups such as Citizens UK

Join with your local church who will (hopefully) be working to make a positive difference to some of those on the margins of our society.

And just maybe we can leave the playground and return to the nobler purpose of politics.

Be blessed, be a blessing

Grandma’s lamp

I love the simplicity of this image yet it is clearly a desk lamp(freeimages.com)
I love the simplicity of this image – yet it is clearly a desk lamp(freeimages.com)

I have a desk lamp that belonged to one of my Grandmas. I have had it for a while and when I came to Colchester I thought it would be useful at the church.

I put it on my desk in the ministers’ office at the church when I was setting up there, and it lived there for the past 6+ years. (For you grammar pedants, it was an office for both ministers so the apostrophe is in the right place here even if it never got changed on the door!). Yesterday evening I went to the church to empty out some bits and pieces from the office (cue more lumps in throat and tears in eyes – what a softie!).

I almost forgot to pick up Grandma’s lamp because it had been a regular ‘fixture’ on my desk for the past 6+ years and I had grown used to it being there. As I was gathering up my bits and pieces I noticed Grandma’s lamp and realised that I needed to bring it with me. I managed to get it gently in my bag and brought it back. I have found the perfect place for it above my desk and realised that I could have used it there much more helpfully than I used it in the church office.

Two brief reflections on that:

Do we treat people like Grandma’s lamp? How often do we become so familiar with people that we take them for granted? How often do they blend into the background and we forget that they have a story, an inherent value and¬†significance?

And is it also possible that we are like the lamp? We may be doing wonderfully where we are, but might God have us use our gifts in another way or another place in order to bless people in a different way? This is what is happening to me this week!

Be blessed, be a blessing