I’m really excited about the new book coming out in the next few weeks, especially as the over-arching theme of engaging the other is so current. British politics has historically been about governing by majority. One party gets enough seats to be able to vote through whatever legislation it sees fit. Rebellions are uncommon; the whips make sure MPs don’t move out of line.
Increasingly however, especially with the devolution of powers to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, British politics in the wider sense has been about governing through negotiation and coalition. What we are seeing now is the dragging of Westminster politics into ground that much of Europe sees as very familiar, and we should not be afraid of that. Strong government ought not to be simply about forcing through laws without needing to listen to debate from all sides. Strong governance can be about listening carefully to arguments and thrashing out better solutions.
One of the touchstone quotes in the book is from Miroslav Volf, who presents us with a key question:
what kind of selves do we need to be to live in harmony with others?
There could be no better question that our politicians could ask themselves as they try to work out the best way forward for our politics. And there is no better question that we can ask ourselves when we try to work out the best way forward with our lives and communities. Why? Because life is never a dictatorship. Within our selves, within our communities, we live in coalition – having to negotiate and listen, to compromise and adapt. And as we do so, the best question we can ask is not how can the other change so that we will like them more, but how can we change in order to live most harmoniously with others.
In a sense, this is at the heart of Christian belief: God is in coalition, and God, rather than waiting for us to change, acted to change and live among us in order to model the harmonious self.
I hope you enjoy reading the when it comes out. You can pre-order it right here.
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