I recently met with one of Stroud’s parliamentary candidates for the upcoming general election. Impartiality stops me from naming which one! In fact, all those standing in May have connections with us, and it has been an honour and privilege to share with them what we do.
One of the discussions we had was about helping the young people we work with engage with the election and encourage them to exercise their right to vote. I shared how much apathy towards politics there is in young people at the moment.
This got me reflecting on a couple of things.
Firstly – why is it that young people see politics as irrelevant in their lives? Perhaps its because the only time ‘youth’ issues hit the headlines recently have been because of University Tuition Fees, how easy GCSE and A-Levels have become, or the fact Youth Unemployment is falling. Just how relevant are these issues to the majority of the over 18s we work with? Many of them got few or no qualifications, don’t consider going to University, and can’t find a job.
Secondly – In the book of Revelation Jesus says “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Now whilst He was talking to a particular church, I believe His message is equally relevant to our society and its attitude towards the political system. Too many of us – young and old – are lukewarm regarding politics, not being fussed either way or considering that ‘they’re all just the same’
Engaging in politics affects all of us, personally and professionally. We know first hand at The Door that the current austerity measures have hit state funded services hard and our colleagues who work for them cannot cope with their workloads. Expectations on our and other voluntary services have grown and those services are now also under the strain. This is just one way in which political decisions affect us and those we work with.
I would much rather engage in healthy debate with someone who holds a differing view than I do, than with someone who is lukewarm, whether that be about politics, faith or any other matter.