The post-mortem has already begun to find possible causes of the recent riot and looting in London and other cities in England, and to find possible solutions. Several causes have been mentioned on the air-waves by the politicians and the general public.
Some put the blame on the education system, arguing that schools have lost control of discipline. Others put the blame on lack of parental responsibility- arguing that parents have failed to tell their children the difference between right and wrong. Still, others believe its just greed which has taken hold of today’s society. Others still argue that the cause of the riot was an expression of anger and alienation. The list is endless. I will sum it by saying Britain’s society is broken.
In the past few days politicians both in government, and opposition and the police have all unveiled measures they believe will help tackle the social problems which exploded in our face in the past week. Some of the measures unveiled to tackle the broken society include; plans to make all 16-year-olds carry out National Citizen Service, ending the “chilling effect” of the human rights culture in Britain and health and safety rules that damage society, programmes to encourage good parenting, war on gang culture, more police on the street.
Whilst I agree with most of the measures suggested, one thing missing, although not surprising, is the mention of God or anything to do with religion. It appears as if religion has no role in 21st century Britain. Are the actions and inactions of the religious bodies to be blamed for this sad conclusion? Many of the most challenging issues that we face in this country have a religious dimension and yet it appears the religious bodies are voiceless.
It’s a fact that many politicians and the population in this country “don’t do God”, but given what we are faced with, I will say a little bit of “God doing” would help. Therefore, I will put God on top of my corrective measures. In many ways religion continues to define our lives and it is very important that our social policies reflect that.
It’s also a fact that the few who claim to “do God” actually do very little. How many people of faith actually live out their faith – by way of exemplary life at work, family homes, and in public? By our actions and inactions we have caused great grief to some members of the society. Within the church itself our contribution is minimal. Many have adopted the Me, Myself, and I mantra much to disadvantage of the church and society at large. Many just come and go without caring what happens in the church or the neighbourhood. It’s about time we paused and reflect how we are “doing God”. Very few people invest their time in church activities and roles. They will rather stay on for few more hours at work to get extra pay or bonus than to volunteer to help the Sunday school, or Boys and girls Brigade. If we can’t invest our time, ideas and expertise in running the church can we invest our time in helping the neighbourhood youth club or the Scout group?
I believe faith has much to say about challenges facing our society today. We must really live out our faith. The Methodist Lectionary last week gave a very classic example of how we can all help to reduce the inequality in our society. In Genesis 45:1-15, we have a perfect example of how we should live if society is to survive and thrive. Joseph was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, suffered sexual harassment under Portiphar’s wife, falsely accused and put into prison, Years later, when famine struck Israel it was Joseph who came to the aid of the family by proving them food and a place to live. Today many will say I suffered alone to get what I have got why must I share? Famine has struck our society- majority are the have-nots.
If we want society to survive and thrive we must have the spirit of sharing, and as people of faith we must be the ones to lead.