ONLY the Green Party majors in its manifesto on the idea of the
common good, even if the connections it makes - or fails to make -
between the common good and climate change are somewhat
This does not help to assuage the collective unease that comes
from not knowing what to think about politics in general and, more
specifically, about climate change, and the conflicts that
Climate change and defence are bound up in a single, but
complex, moral imperative. Much of our unease derives from the fear
and uncertainty generated by the turmoil in Eastern Europe, Africa,
and the Middle East. No one party can, or should, proffer an
instant solution on how to best defend ourselves against President
Putin, or support our vulnerable distant neighbours in the face of
barbarism and religious persecution.
Nevertheless, defence and its environmental repercussions
ultimately define what we ask of our politicians. The difficulty
lies in knowing what it is that we really expect of them, and
whether we ask and expect what is truly just, and therefore makes
for peace and stability.
So far, defence and foreign policy have not figured prominently
among the questions put to leaders in public debates. The
priorities set by most party manifestos suggest that health-care,
housing, and maintaining a far higher standard of living than is
even imaginable to those who live in conflict zones is what will
ultimately decide the individual vote.
But these narrow and perhaps selfish priorities only serve to
exacerbate a prevailing sense of political uncertainty. We are
afraid for our pocket books, and many of us feel uneasy and a
little guilty about this fear. We expect the next government,
however it is composed, to square these two negative emotions for
But are such limited expectations, along with such a timid view
of our collective life, worthy of us as human beings?
The Churches and other faith communities can help to reverse the
kind of negative mindset which is both a cause and a symptom of the
current political uncertainty. Together, they can speak of a just
and merciful God who is outside the machine of self-interested
politics, and who sets, in the most profound sense, the precedents
by which his people should be governed.
We should test the policies of our preferred party or politician
against these precedents. We should then take the trouble to vote
for them on 7 May.
The Revd Lorraine Cavanagh is an Anglican priest in the
Church in Wales. She blogs at http://jobbingtheologian.blogspot.co.uk;