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Dear Friends

A week last Thursday I returned from overnighting at the Mirfield Monastery with a group of clergy and imams. As I began to watch the 10pm news, I suddenly realised that I had forgotten to vote! Mortified,I  rushed round to the Polling Station; it was closed…

In 1819 60,000-80,000 people campaigning for greater democracy, including the vote, gathered in St Peter’s Square, Manchester. The Cavalry charged into the crowd, 15 were killed and 400-700 were injured. In 1989, in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, after several weeks of massive demonstrations for greater democracy,troops entered the Square and opened fire. Estimates of the death toll range from several hundred to thousands. Up to 10,000 were arrested, a few of whom were executed. 

At our last general election 61.1% of the UK electorate cast a vote. My friend Marzia, who risked her life, campaigning for the vote in Afghanistan, cannot understand such apathy.

Negative, and I believe largely ill founded attitudes towards those who seek to serve others in Parliament abound: ‘they're in it for what they can get’; ‘they’re all the same’, ‘they promise one thing and do another’.‘Politicians’ are type cast, and blamed for all the evils of the world.

We have a God given responsibility to play our part in ensuring the well being of our neighbours and all that God has made. A well considered casting of our vote is part of that responsibility.

There are huge issues that face us: the peace of the world; learning to live and thrive together in the diversity of our country;  the well being of all, especially the poor, the homeless and refugees, the sick, disabled, and housebound; and the development of all through education, work, leisure and opportunities for spiritual growth.

We should try to put own self interest to one side, and think of our neighbours, particular the less fortunate. God’s love extends to all, and so must ours. In my opinion the most important issue of all is our stewardship of Creation. It is fragile and injured. If we don't respect, repair and care for the planet, it cannot support us. All policies require the planets provision to be successful, we take it for granted, but as many know to their cost, it its brokenness means it does not always provide  and sometimes is destructive. We are divinely assigned with its care, and political leaders have a significant role in that.

Even if we think the parties are ‘all the same’, the candidates are not, everyone is different. No two people will approach the same issue in the same way. And no two political parties are the same, for no  team of people will work in the same way as another. Both the candidates and the issues need careful and well informed thought. Unfortunately the media don’t always provide this, but unbiased information is available if we seek it out. 

Please do cast your vote, well informed, thoughtfully, prayerfully, open-mindedly. And pray for those standing for office, and then those elected and those not.

With love and prayers

James


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