If it wasn’t for what people post on Facebook, I would have been barely aware of the anti-austerity marches / rallies that took place yesterday in London, and in other parts of the UK. After, having caught up with some of the mainstream news (TV and newspaper reports via the Internet) I found out a bit more of what went on but got the impression the people who control the media, given the relatively pitiful coverage that was given, felt what took place is no great shakes and things would soon move on after this minor blip.
But it all got me worked up and, I am pleased to say, for the right reasons. I decided it was something that merited a post in my blog and with further investigation and reflection to follow. One thing that got me thinking was that two of my Conservative friends posted a story (imho an irrelevant side show and an inappropriate distraction). It was about covering up certain iconic City memorials, including those commemorating our glorious dead who fought to safeguard our freedoms, and was done in the light of previous vandalism activities, implying that these were the sort of people who do anti-austerity marches, which just ain’t true and also dismally fails the TNK (true, necessary, kind) test. But in fairness to my two friends, both are decent people who might be mortified if they read this and one has done more to help the victims of austerity than almost anyone else I know. I should point out, yet again, I am not Conservative and I am not Labour; I am not pro austerity and I am not anti austerity. I happen to believe we need to get away from a dependent culture to an independent one and then onto an interdependent one where the haves recognize their obligations to the have nots. I believe in balancing the books and not spending what we don’t have. I also believe in an ideal world where if caring Conservatism did rule the roost that would the way to go politically – except the theocratic ideal I preached this morning doesn’t apply.
One of the reasons why I was interested in the story was that a number of my disparate group of friends were there and, no doubt when we get to meet and are not caught up with having amicable exchanges or working together to save our small corner of the planet, we might well philosophise on the matter. I suspect even if I had been given decent warning of the march taking place, my diary had been free and I understood clearly what it was that the march was seeking to achieve, Likely, I would still not have attended. One of the reasons for that is the anti-austerity cause and some of the ideology linked to it is not one that especially resonates. However, helping the poor, some (many) of which are victims, at least in part, of austerity measures is. I do so after having had longish conversations with several such folk in the past two days and feeling a burden that, despite the tea and sympathy I gave and the follow up I will do, I am unable to sort out their needs in the way I would like.
When I consider my friends and the personalities involved in the march, I realize what a disparate and motley crew they are and one with often conflicting agendas. I’m pretty sure that others will have a divide and rule field day on the matter but I respect my friends too much to dismiss their concerns, one unifying factor one being the continuance of the governments welfare cuts program, more to be announced shortly, and that somehow the rich continue to become richer (nothing wrong with that per se) and too often the ideal those with the broadest shoulders have to carry to greatest burdens doesn’t happen and with some of among the most wealthy getting away with daylight robbery. I also sense many of those in power (i.e. a Conservative led government, including my two town MPs) don’t get it! But against that it should be recognized and addressed that we cannot continue with debt and deficit (still trying to unravel the difference) and that we have just had a General Election where the Consevatives, who had been quite clear they would continue with their austerity measures in their manifesto, were voted back in.
This is, as they say, a stake in the ground post, with a lot more to come I am sure. While I try to operate on the basis of recognizing and implementing what are the best principles, I am not entirely clear on what are the best practices concerning this matter, and recognize there is work that needs doing to come to a much needed better understanding. While the hope of the powers that be that the austerity regime will soon be at an end as the economy upturns, it cannot be guaranteed and we have to expect the unexpected in this crazy world in which we live. As for the anti-austerity protestors and the many more who sympathise with them, they will not go away given the social injustices they see. I fear we are a divided nation and one also that is ripe for judgment by Almighty God. As for me, I will endeavour to proclaim the message that is not just about saving souls but also about obtaining justice for the poor (with all parties having some way to go), and prayerfully doing my bit trying to sort out some of the impossible situations I cannot ignore.