Words Of Wisdom

In the run-up to the UK general election on 8 June, our wonderful and wise chair Rowan Williams explains why each one of us should work together for a safe and equitable world.

 

 

Britain’s political and social landscape is in flux.

We face great choices about the soul and future of our nation. For many, it is a time of uncertainty and fear, for others an opportunity for change and optimism. But I believe that all of us as individuals can play a vital role in shaping our nation. We can choose to turn inwards and struggle more and more urgently to protect ourselves; or we can look outwards, recognising that our good is bound up with that of others.

Rowan Williams portrait

We British are famously known for standing up for the underdog and standing firm when things get tough. We do not only look out for those less fortunate than ourselves; we want to meet halfway those working hard to stand on their own two feet.

The British public are rightly proud that our great nation hasn’t turned its back on the world’s poorest people. As we enter the election period and discuss the future of our country, debate the terms of Brexit and our relationship with the EU as we also form our new relationship with the world, it is time to wear our aid budget as a badge of honour — one that sets a standard for others to follow.

The continuing levels of public generosity from British people in response to successive emergency appeals show how deeply rooted these impulses are in our national identity and our sense of responsibility to the wider world. A world that is facing the most extensive humanitarian crisis since 1945 according to the UN, with both the continuing refugee crisis and the now stark reality of 20 million people at risk of starvation because of drought and conflict in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.

 

We are not in the business of violent revolution, nor do we expect magical improvements overnight. But we do have to go on saying that change is possible: We’ve seen it happen, we can make it happen, and by the grace of God we go on with the commitment to making it happen.

We are not prepared to accept any economic system that gives priority to short-term profits over people.

And in these times of turmoil we all need each other. This is a world where making local communities work is inseparably bound up with global issues. No major crisis of our time can be dealt with by the actions of one nation alone.

Environmental risk and degradation, health threats, violence and terror, all these are challenges that do not stop at national boundaries. We must not forget the Gospel-grounded ideals of universal dignity and universal responsibility that have helped identify and combat so many atrocities and abuses in the past few decades.