9th May 2023 Hope for a politics characterised by listening, kindness and truthfulness (part 2)
We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knitted together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.
Yesterday, we explored the need for listening, kindness and truthfulness in our politicians. Today, we reflect on the need for these traits in ourselves when engaging with politics.
Listening is a powerful tool in politics – especially listening to those we disagree with, trying to truly understand their thinking, rather than assuming it is based on poor judgement. It means listening to what politicians actually say and mean, and holding them accountable. It also means listening to lived experience; trusting and trying to understand the experiences and needs of the poorest and most marginalised. These are the people whose lives are most impacted by politics, but often the most ignored.
Truthfulness is equally important when looking at ourselves. All of us hold biases against various groups, ranging from trivial to worrying. Admitting these can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. Pretending they aren’t there, or don’t have an impact on us, gives them a far greater ability to influence our decision making. Being honest with ourselves about biases we need to work on, admitting these to trusted, supportive people, and challenging when we see these biases playing out around us is important. Recognising these biases grounds our conclusions in reality. It is the best way to ensure our politics is reflecting the best in us, rather than the worst.
And finally, kindness, which is so vital to this approach. Truthfulness without kindness for ourselves and others can become hurtful and deprecating. Listening without kindness will stunt our ability to listen sincerely, generously and openly. And politics without kindness becomes a pointless endeavour. What is the point of politics if it is just an emotionless pursuit of ideology? Politics is only an endeavour worth engaging with if it has the ability to intentionally improve people’s lives. Which means that, at all times, in all decisions, reflections and conversations there must be kindness.
Dear God, I pray about how I interact with politics personally. Allow me to listen to the views and experiences of others with compassion and understanding. Let me be honest with others and myself in challenging my preconceptions and biases. Ground me in kindness, so that it underpins my whole approach to politics. Amen
Alfie Prothero is a parliamentary intern with the Joint Public Issues Team. Alfie splits his time between working with JPIT and working for an MP