The 2019 general election in the United Kingdom did not yield the result I was hoping and praying for.
So, what do we do when elections don’t go our way?
We can stomp around in an angry huff, complaining about fairness and how the election campaign was fought.
That may make us feel better in a cathartic fashion, but it is not a sustainable solution.
So, I want to offer four suggestions how we can continue to have hope and constructively engage as citizens:
Many people are disappointed in the election result. Indeed, the way our electoral system works more people voted against the new government than who voted for it.
So, how can you help others to come to terms with the result? Rather than ramping up the rhetoric can you offer gentle, calm words of wisdom.
An offer of a cup of tea or coffee may seem insignificant, but it shows you care when someone is sad. And a noncritical listening ear costs only time.
Can you explore ways of helping during the term of the next parliament? For example, can you help support a local foodbank.
Can you help support those who feel more vulnerable because of the policies that are planned or will be maintained by the current government? It may not be you on your own, but with a group of friends you can make a difference.
We can all help with those who are lonely and isolated. Who in your neighborhood could do with a visit, help with shopping, a lift or some lunch?
If we were to calculate the value in pounds of the work of volunteers in the U.K., it is estimated about 24 billion pounds per year! If it didn’t happen, there would have be a massive hit on taxes to provide those things.
We must rely on each other, not just on government. That includes you and me. There is something we can all do to help.
A number of promises were made by our new government during the election. A lot of doubt was expressed about them, but we need to be vigilant now and seek to ensure they are kept.
Let’s make sure that the commitments set forth in the Conservative Manifesto happen. Check your newspapers and news bulletins. Try reading reports from those who don’t share your political leaning to inform yourself. Let’s be observant.
- Be prophetic.
I don’t mean here that we try to predict the future. In the Bible, prophecy is more about speaking (God’s) truth in the present. So how can we be prophetic?
We can dissent. Baptist Christians (my church family) have their roots in dissent. They spoke out against injustice and evil where they saw it.
In the bad old days when it was illegal to be a nonconformist, many of them were imprisoned (John Bunyan wrote “Pilgrim’s Progress” while in prison).
Christians have led campaigns for social change, including the abolition of the slave trade and many of the social improvements in the Victorian era.
The Drop the Debt and Jubilee 2000 campaigns began with Christians at the heart of them, but it’s not just Christians.
Bob Geldof led a movement in the 1980s that culminated in Live Aid and (in my view) began the process of major fundraising events supporting the poorest and marginalized in our world that continues through Children in Need, Comic Relief, Sport Relief and others.
Greta Thunberg is making a massive difference by raising the issue of climate change in a way that has motivated millions so the powers that be are being challenged to increase the rate of change.
There’s a great tradition of prophetic action in the Bible – from sitting naked on a pile of ashes to marrying a woman of dubious reputation and taking her back when she was unfaithful.
I am not suggesting either of those actions, but what action can you take?
It may be something simple like ensuring you reduce your plastic consumption, recycling more or walking or cycling shorter journey distances to reduce your impact on the environment and encouraging others to do the same.
It may be joining in with a protest march or signing an online petition. There may well be other things you’re inspired to do. Do them. We can all be prophetic.
This follows on from being prophetic. As well as prophetic action to highlight issues and make a difference, we need to engage with those in power – those who may be able to change things.
If we see injustice, we should not sit by and remain silent about it. If things are wrong, we should campaign against them. And if others are speaking out, we should support them.
If nothing else, we should contact our elected officials and point out the issues.
When I lived in a different constituency, I engaged with my member of parliament about Foodbanks and he didn’t like it (see here) but it got a response.
No matter the response, keep going. Encourage like-minded others to join you.
One thing Greta Thunberg has reminded us about is a single voice can make a difference, but it is most effective when it motivates many voices. Speak truth to power.
It is suggested one letter or email to a member of parliament is considered to represent the views of hundreds. So, imagine the impact of 100 people writing to the same member of parliament.
If you are a praying person, pray for politicians too. They have a difficult job, whatever we think of them.
When they do something you like, write to encourage them. Don’t only be a moaner (I need to do something about that).
At a time when it may feel that your vote didn’t count for much, let’s remember to keep engaging with our politicians at national and local levels.
I am sure by now you will have realized that the four suggestions above spell the acronym of HOPE.
Let’s ensure hope never dies and give it to those who feel hopeless.
Nick Lear is a regional minister of the Eastern Baptist Association in the United Kingdom.