Parish Magazine Article - May 2019
Perhaps one of the most common opening lines when we meet someone is: ‘Hello, how are you? We British, being the reticent people we are, will most probably reply with a: ‘Fine thank you.’ It is a common reply whatever is going on in our lives at that moment. ‘How are you?’ is nevertheless an important question. How are we as a society and as a nation at this moment in time? Given our recent history; the ‘How are you?’ question I think touches quite deep.
Certainly, when looking back over several decades, I find it quite hard to remember a time when that sense of insecurity and being generally unsettled were so prominent and palpable in society. The political squabbles of Brexit have left many of us with a profound feeling of dismay. Factional and individual interests seem constantly to trump and overrule what many of us had taken for granted, namely a good sense of British pragmatism and common sense. There is a real fear that whoever shouts loudest or pushes hardest will get their way. A few years ago, when studying ethical approaches to making good decisions, those teaching me pointed out the importance of balancing the rights of the individual with perspectives that looked carefully at what might be for the overall good of society. The good of the many is to be an essential part of what is required. Perhaps it as an obvious thing to say but not everyone can have everything they want. A healthy society requires attentiveness to the overall good of its members especially the powerless, voiceless and marginalised.
A society that is ill at ease can very easily become a society where anger broods. I share, with others the deep concern at the rise in knife crime. Those on the social margins, often in dysfunctional families and lacking resources are prone to enter gangs where their longing for identity comes linked to crime and violence. Alice Thomson writing recently in the Times wrote…Violence is not a craze, it’s a symptom showing these children need care and consideration. “There’s an African saying, ‘If a child doesn’t feel part of a village they will burn it down for heat.” Of course, we cannot excuse or overlook violence. The question is to how best to address it with lasting solutions. To the young everything can look precarious and fractious.
As Christians we have a long heritage of emphasising and working for the common good. The Old Testament longing for shalom and wellbeing overflow into the New Testament ethics of Christ’s kingly rule and reign. As Easter people we believe that death, destruction and evil do not have the last word. Ours are the values of love and hope and ours is the season to make a difference.