What on earth is going on in the UK?
Why is corporate greed winning over common decency?
Do those in positions of responsibility and influence not care about the human race and the planet we inhabit?
Of course the answer is that a huge number of people with responsibility and influence do care. They care very passionately, but it is hard to see any of this being translated into good decision-making at government level. The government, I would argue, does not care.
I don't think the British people will look back on this moment of history with pride: failing to help children from war-torn countries, privatising the NHS, allowing (if not positively encouraging) the sale of weapons to oppressive regimes, demolishing the welfare state, undermining democratic processes in elections... the depressing list goes on.
It is strange witnessing this from the other side of the world. Some problems are world-wide of course. Britain has done a few things that should be held up as exemplars, it's worth remembering that it's not all bad. Charging for plastic bags was a great step in the right direction for minimising their use, for example. I was surprised that re-using bags doesn't seem as commonplace here in NZ. (Plastics depress me. I still have far too much plastic in my life. I don't dedicate my life to avoiding them, but my awareness of their environmental impact makes me feel a mixture of guilt, impotency and frustration.)
As a migrant to NZ I have been aware of how different my experience is from that of an asylum seeker. With a visa in place I was welcomed at the airport. I can apply for jobs. We have unquestioned access to education and health care services. I have the language to ask everything I need to know.
The move was expensive but we were able to bring our possessions with us, and familiar things around us has helped us settle. I smile to see our books on the shelves, the blanket box which once belonged to grandparents, the Supermum mug the girls' gave me a few years ago. So many small things which turn the house into a home. It is hard to imagine what it must be like to leave home with nothing but fear, a phone, some money, a favourite photo or two.
I hope that my experiences here will make me more welcoming to strangers. I have appreciated the kindnesses we were offered on arrival, and the emphasis on inclusive community in general.
In terms of what is happening in Britain and what the future may hold, I was heartened to read some of the recent resources shared by Young Quakers. I knew that they had published their 'Living our beliefs' book, but this week was the first time I properly dipped into it. I really liked it, and hope it will be a positive influence for all ages. Thank you to the team who worked on it.
I love that they have created a resource that quotes Mahatma Gandhi alongside David Mitchell (Ghostwritten), established Quaker writings, and even Elvis!
You can find out more here: http://www.yqspace.org.uk/living-our-beliefs
All we can really do in response to the rot is to continue to breathe life into our beliefs. I suspect I am have said similar in previous posts, but it is how I feel and is worth repeating. We need to lead by example showing love and respect, supporting things that are good in the world, avoiding inadvertent support for things that harm. We can start small if it is too overwhelming to start big. A small act of kindness can make someone's day.
The Young Quakers' 'Living our beliefs' contains a great reminder of the words of Gandhi: