Thought for the week from Bishop Robert as published in the Citizen, 13 June 2019
‘Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant’. These are words Jesus spoke to his followers when they were arguing about leadership and about which of them was the most important! They may have been spoken almost 2000 years ago but their force is as strong as ever not least as candidates vie for leadership of the Conservative Party and our country which they will serve as Prime Minister. That servant nature is of course there too in the very name of the chief political office of our nation – we have a Prime ‘Minister’, the first to minister, to care for, look after those in their care, to tend the wounds of society, to seek out the good of all and indeed beyond that to enable this country not just to seek its own welfare but the welfare of the nations of the world, in which we are bound together in a common humanity.
All this means of course that we are right to have high expectations of our politicians – theirs is a high calling, but that does not mean that we can simply ‘pass the buck’ and leave them to it only blame them later when things go wrong. Our politicians need to know the values we most cherish and that we are committed to sharing with them in the task of promoting them in our society. We value our health service, we need to pay for it through fair and equitable taxation, and we need to use it responsibly. We want education for our children, we need to support and encourage them and their teachers. We want to live peaceably with our neighbour, we need to abide by the laws we agree. This does not mean we don’t call out injustice and wrong, not least because for society to flourish we need greater mutual accountability where authority can be challenged to enable a culture in which the poor and marginalised know that justice is to be found. It does mean that we recognise that we are bound one to the other in mutual responsibility and that we have our part to play.
The hard truth is sometimes we get the politicians we deserve and it may be that expecting more of ourselves, recognising the long term need, not just the short, and the part we have to play we will enable us to have better politicians, and a better society for us all to live in.