View from the Vicarage April 2011 Village Newsletter
Sometime in the future, we may look back on 2011 as a ‘Year of Revolutions.” We may say this was a time when the power of the people has become stronger than the people in power. The jury’s still out on that, but it’s true some well entrenched dictators who oppressed their people for many years have succumbed to peaceful, determined and sustained resistance.
Are we just onlookers, or are we ourselves part of the process? I believe as a nation we have been badly burned by events as they have unfolded, and we must accept a share of the blame for keeping some regimes in power. We did this in the belief we were maintaining political stability and looking after our own best interests. Often this meant compromising our principles. We sacrificed liberty and democracy for others – the very principles we hold dear at home. We have done business with tyrants and despots, selling them arms which can be turned against their own people, all in the name of preserving jobs at home.
Politicians have dismissed those who advocated an ethical foreign policy as hopelessly naïve and unrealistic. Now the chickens are coming home to roost. Now foreign powers are pondering shooting down planes that once rolled off their own production lines at the risk of being shot down by guns they themselves sold.
Can we shrug off all responsibility, living quietly in rural Buckinghamshire? I think not. Our faith informs our worldview, and our votes directly influence government policy, at home and abroad. Social networks and the immediacy of Net based applications mean we can stretch out our virtual hands without ever writing to our MP or waiting for the next election.
It’s not only North Africa we should ponder. That’s where voices have been raised and weapons fired, but there are other regimes we have supported, and other governments to whom we have sold arms. Previously we were happy to do business and not upset anyone with too many questions about human rights. Do we even now condemn repression only when it proves insufficient to keep the lid on the box containing those who have been repressed? It’s a hypocrisy and an embarrassment.
Is there any doubt about the teaching of Scripture? Even the Old Testament prophets longed for the time when
God will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide.
They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Isaiah 2; Micah 4
The teaching of Christ is so well-known there’s no need to say much more. Have a look at Matthew 5 if you want any reminder. Love your enemies. Turn the other cheek. Do not resist an evil person. To which we can add give help to those who need it and stop selling arms to those who oppress them.
As always, good can come out of evil. Let’s hope the shock on the faces of politicians can be replaced with a suspicion that something has been awry in our foreign policy for decades. Perhaps the doves will be heard instead of the screeching hawks? Maybe the voice of Christ can be heeded, instead of being dismissed as impractical, outmoded and dangerously naive? Integrity could well finally have its day.