Niall Cooper: Join the society debate
With the general election approaching, 2015 is a year of decision. Our society is facing fundamental challenges: Rising levels of poverty, inequality and austerity, a housing crisis, challenges facing children and young people, and the prospect of climate crisis. This isn’t new, but whoever forms the next government has a tough job and key decisions ahead that will ultimately shape the type of society we become.
Churches have an admirable 40-year history of hosting hustings meetings where we can question those who wish to represent us in parliament. But, are we simply to be passive observers of the 2015 election debate – whether on our TV screens or in our church halls? Surely our Christian faith is not neutral on these issues. Does our faith not also drive us to have views, values and a positive vision of the kind of “good society” we want to help create, locally, nationally and globally over the five years of the next parliament?
Central to a “good society” is our understanding of what it means. Is the goal of politics simply to vote on the basis of our own narrow self-interest, or can we find ways of reconciling our own interests with those of others, within a broader vision of the “good society”? In what ways is our quality of life/ wellbeing/ happiness connected with that of others? Whatever answers we may come up with, is it not worth debating such fundamental issues – issues which take us far beyond party politics to the very foundations upon which our society is built?..
This is an extract from the February 2015 edition of Reform.