A fresh year
My New Year’s message recorded for Radio Lincolnshire…Happy New Year…!
The great eastern philosopher and poet, Kahlil Gibran, wrote these words about children: Their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. As we stand on the threshold of a new year, we know that what this new year holds, like the souls of children, is in the house of tomorrow, which we cannot visit. There are some things of which we will be able to be certain as we look into the future: our continued love for our families, the need to provide for them and ensure their safety, the knowledge that there will be both good and bad things happen to us but, for the most part, the events of the coming year and how they will affect us are a mystery yet to be revealed. This, in itself, is a cause for rejoicing for, despite the human beings craving for safety and certainty, the gradual unfolding and revealing of the events of our lives is what makes them so exciting as each day brings new things, new opportunities: fresh experiences of life.
On one level then, we will not know whether the tacit agreements to stabilise the climate of our planet will finally be ratified and become agreed actions by the leaders of the nations. We do not know what the outcome of any General Election will be or whether our Service men and women will continue to fight and risk their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq. Neverthless, leadership is about having a vision and understanding that, although the future is yet to be revealed, there are many ways in which we can influence what is to happen and ways in which we can make the things happen that we wish to see. In recent years, the energies of governments, it seems to me, have been expended in ‘tinkering around the edges’ of life: a few million more or less for the National Health Service, for Education, for the old, for the unemployed, and all of this balanced against the wishes of the tax-payer and comfortable Britain. The days of the grand vision, when we all believed ourselves to be involved in a saga of life in which we were creating a better world, with better conditions for all and a world free of hunger, fear and war, these days seem now to be in the ‘house of yesterday’ and we bicker about the small things.
In his acceptance speech on receiving his Noble Peace Prize, Barak Obama once more held out the grand vision: the belief that the house of tomorrow could be a better, fairer, juster place when he said…
The one rule that lies at the heart of every major religion is that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Adhering to this law of love has always been the core struggle of human nature…. If we lose that faith-if we dismiss is as silly or naïve, if we divorce it form the decisions that we make on issues of war and peace-then we lose what is best about humanity. We lose our sense of possibility. We lose our moral compass. So let us reach out for the world that ought to be-that spark of the divine which still stirs within each our souls. We can acknowledge that oppression will always be with us, and still strive for justice. We can admit the intractability of deprivation, and still strive for dignity. We can understand that there will be war and still strive for peace. We can do that-for that is the story of human progress.
The one thing that we can be certain of about ‘the house of tomorrow’ is that if there is no love, and the action that flows out of love, then it will be a very cold house indeed. If there is the belief that, in working in love, we can change the world into something better-and dare I say more divine-that will, indeed, be a house worth living in.