I got into an interesting discussion on Facebook yesterday, as one does, and this one particularly focused on a subject I know a lot less about than many of the other subjects I blog about, i.e. the environment, including road humps (more of which later), and trying to relate this to my other areas of community activism.
I was up against worthy adversaries, who included Green activists who knew their subject. I confess that while I blog on a wide range of topics, the environment is not one that features highly. There are many other things that I do care about and have written a lot about in my blog, not just because I know more about these subjects and have decided to take a particular interest in them, often seeing these as being of a higher priority than the environment, although I quite accept this may well cut across many of the topics, is important and does affect life itself. I should add that the environment may be an issue that becomes higher priority for local politicians as one they can do something about. Before returning to the environment, here are my fifteen politically related issues I think about first:
- the sanctity of life
- religious conscience
- traditional marriage
- ethics in public life
- ethical foreign policy
- health (especially the NHS)
- the economy
- the poor and socially disadvantaged
- the homeless and the asylum seeker
- internal security (police)
- external security (the armed forces)
I should say first that the environment is important and I care immensely we are destroying our planet because of our failure to be good stewards of it. I care when the Amazon rain forest gets destroyed. I care when I find reported today, oil giants polluting and ruining the livelihoods of the poor due to accidental spillages, as recently happened in Nigeria, and many times before that. I care that there is so much waste. I care when rubbish is just dumped in our streets. I care that our public transport system is less than satisfactory. I care about the untoward effects of fracking. I care that we do not have a long term energy policy I feel comfortable with. It is for these reasons I welcome the Greens onto the political scene but also with the message – convince me on my fifteen points.
I dislike the way the global warming agenda appears to undermine individual freedom, how environmentalists often seem to focus on comparative triviality and fail to respond to issues of importance and when the environment trumps pragmatism and the economy when issues are raised. I wonder when it comes to change there is sometimes too much emphasis placed on making more laws than changing hearts and minds (one reason I am a preacher and not a politician). But I am ready to debate these subjects and rise to the challenge of considering the facts and arguments,often ignored, including those matters that affect us on our own doorsteps, while considering essential matters like how to pay for the changes made. I am happy to debate such local issues as the expansion of the town’s airport (in my view an economic necessity) and the case made for improved flood defenses (in my view needed to avert a catastrophe).
So back to earth with a bump, or rather a road hump! I suspect, I inadvertently managed to upset one of my Green friends with my apparent ambivalence on the subject, especially given the evidence that these do save lives. I should first say though that road humps are a relatively new thing in my own experience, and I recall a few years back as chair of the local residents association supporting the move to place road humps in my own locality, as being a reasonable and cost effective way to reduce vehicular speed and thus save lives. I stand by this decision, although my main own experience has been avoiding humps altogether and the irritation I feel, when I receive a jolt each time I go over a hump, wondering if there is a better way. But everything is/should be about perspective and balance.
As I survey the homeless situation and the much shorter life expectancy for rough sleepers, found in all parts of our country, and I suspect there are many other saving life issues, including the 200,000 fetuses that were aborted last year in the UK, and the humanitarian disasters that are unraveling all round the world, amounting to millions of avoidable deaths, I cannot help think of the many more lives we could have saved, if only we had done things differently and better! But as I say, it is all about perspective and balance. So let there be an intelligent debate on all these matters!