Reader Writes, July 2017

So it's a hung parliament! And at the time of writing we have few ideas on how this will develop. But in looking for positives it has to be recognized that chaosis a great engine for change and innovation. Compromise and cooperation are far from simple but provide fertile soil if we put in the hard work to break up long fallow ground. The successful hustings we held in St Mary's just before the election seemed to reflect a taste for something less tribal and more inclusive. Whilst our long standing MP, Bill Wiggin, had his supporters, it felt as if the wider general mood was in favour of the more liberal leaning and inclusive agendas of the Lib Dems, Green Party and an independent who wants to make Herefordshire a National Park; that would get my vote if it went to a referendum. Many of us, perhaps especially the younger generation who seemed responsible for this mighty and useful upset, would love a government of cross-party collaboration. The problems are vast and the challenges urgent.

 

Forgive me for mentioning it so often but the frozen mammoth in this troubled room is climate change; and while we are at it we could mention the rotting odour spoiling our consumer culture, inequality. But how wonderful to have such prominent champions as the Pope on side. Bless Pope Francis for presenting Donald Trump with his encyclical on climate and justice. This was disgracefully followed by the president's withdrawal of the US from the Paris accord; his is the richest nation on earth, and the only one to object to the triumph of a global agreement on something so vital to future generations. Putting climate change simply, an unimaginably long natural rhythm has been eclipsed by man-induced catastrophic change in just a few generations. Forgive the crudeness, but it is like a perfectly healthy adult suddenly taking up a lethal heroin habit and refusing help.

Pope Francis says many challenging but wise things about the creation. It is not just material nature but a gift from God's outstretched hand illuminated by his love and creative genius. We are God's stewards of this creation, an idea that I accept will appear arrogant to non-believers. Caring for the environment is as old as Genesis and as clear as the sermon on the mount. But all will agree that climate change and our response to it is a question of justice, not just the catastrophic effect on our common biosphere. Globally people are suffering right now from our addiction to consumerism; and listening to stories from the canvassing for this recent election, that same consumer market economy is driving people into poverty in our own communities.

It is in difficult times that we most have to uphold high principles and keep cleared-eyed about the longer term common good. This precious climate and the wonderful teeming biosphere that it supports are our global commons. Blind interests seek to enclose and misappropriate them, and for no lasting gain that we could feel proud to leave for our children. As the psalmist put it in Ps.104, “O Lord my God, you are very great! ..... stretching out the heavens like a tent”; Father, help us to see eternity in the hearts of future generations, and give us the courage to care for your precious creation.