Going Green

Frustrated by the outcome of the general election, the apparent pervasiveness of what comes across as an inward-looking, focus on ‘what’s best for me’ in our society, and the gradual merging of the main political parties into a somewhat right-of-centre common ground, I decided this week to join the Green Party.

Green logo@2x

Having spent some time before the election reading through some of the Party manifestos, it seemed to me that the Green Party was the one party that is actually prepared to challenge the status quo of global capitalism and exploitation, to question whether protecting our economy really is the most important value for our society and government, and to dare to suggest that there could be alternatives. There is something about the principles on which the Party is founded that resonates with the values to which I aspire: a concern for justice for all; care for our planet; care for those in our global society who are most vulnerable; an emphasis on health in its fullest sense; and a commitment to non-violent approaches to tackling the problems we face.

I am increasingly convinced that neither my work nor my faith can really be divorced from politics. Coming face to face with the impacts of abuse and violence, poverty, inequalities and injustice in my work as a paediatrician and my academic research, it seems clear that for doctors to devote their energies to patching up the problems without addressing some of these root causes can only scratch the surface. An editorial in last week’s BMJ quoted Virchow, who taught that ‘Medicine is a social science and politics is nothing else but medicine on a large scale.’[1]

In a similar vein, as a Christian, I cannot live in this messed up world and somehow fool myself that my faith is just a personal spirituality that has no relevance beyond what I choose to do with my time. As Mahatma Gandhi apparently said, ‘those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion means.’[2] Perhaps these values touch on those espoused by the Hebrew prophet Micah: ‘to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God’[3], and by the Prince of Peace, who set out in his manifesto to ‘to bring good news to the poor… to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free.’[4]

The Green Party may have a long way to go before it can be a truly credible voice in the governance of our country, but at least it seems to be heading in the right direction. So if my membership can in a small way help Natalie Bennett, Caroline Lucas, Jonathan Ingleby and others along that path, then I’m with them.

[1] Yudkin JS., Leaning J. (2015) Politics, medical journals, the medical profession and the Israel lobby. BMJ 350:h2377

[2] Quoted in Pritchard J (2013) Living faithfully: following Christ in everyday life. (chapter 9)

[3] Micah 6:8

[4] Luke 4:18