Thursday, May 20, 2010

Running off the edge of solid ground?: Farewell to the election

The election made my typing fingers itchy. After two months of high political drama that itch has been well and truly scratched. The leaders' debates, the Lib Dem surge, Bigotgate, election night and the flux and surprises that came as the nation negotiated its first hung parliament for 35 years.

As I wind up this chapter of my blog it's led me to reflect not just on the experience of the nation, but also my own interaction with the political process. As someone who figures that they mind find themselves heavily involved in big P*  Politics one day it's vital that I understand the impact that engagement has on my own wellbeing.

I normally shy away from using the term 'spiritual' as it smacks of decartesian dualism: mind versus body, the physical self pulled away from the soul. However, there's been times when I've noticed that near obsession with polling data and live up-to-the-minute updates have damaged my spiritual health. The silence and centring on who I am in God get lost in the chitter chatter and turning over in my mind of the latest twist and turn.

CS Lewis writes: "Nearly all that a boy reads [in newspapers] in his teens will be known before he is twenty to have been false in emphasis and interpretation, if not in fact as well, and most of it will have lost all importance." (Surprised by Joy)

In a 24 hour news world what is reported as fact in the morning will have been proved false by lunchtime. Was there a point of following polls showing a Lib Dem surge which dissipated into a nothingness that will not merit even a footnote in history?

A loss of God-centredness also makes me less effective in making the arguments that I want to put advance. Losing the link with the passions and motives that helps sustain my views in the first place means losing sight of the larger perspective. Just as cartoon characters run off the edge of a cliff and then look down to find no solid ground beneath them I run the risk of forgetting why I believe the point I am promoting. The big picture gets lost and it's easy to get tangled up in threads of little consequence or to miss the perspective that opens or subverts the debate.

Unless I stay rooted in who I am by keeping time for silence, prayer and calm I will get sucked into a maelstrom of mediocrity and have nothing distinctive to offer our public life.

Walking in God given gifts should overall bring energy not drain it away. Sure, there will be seasons of hard, tiring work, which sometimes last months or even years, but there is also something invigorating and a deep inner contentment that tells you you're in the right place.

I love talking with people about issues that really matter to strangers on the doorstep, people at church, work and friends.  I love challenging people's preconceived ideas and finding good ways to disagree. I love attempting to articulate a vision of positive change. All this is good, yet I need to fiercely guard my spiritual health and say no to lie that if I must be absolutely uptodate on the latest developments to make a contribution.

It's easy to jump from obsession to obsession to avoid facing ourselves. I'm having a rest now...although there is the World Cup just around the corner...

* most of us are involved in little p politics - when I go to a meeting at work with outside agencies to talk about the way we interact or want to work together - that's politics.

1 comment:

  1. not the point of your article, but I was thinking just today how news and comment today (particularly 24h) predicts, not reports - I guess it gives them more to talk about