Emily shares her thoughts on how Eyes Open and the young adult community at St George’s are trying to engage with local politics and the General Election.
I’m Emily and I’m part of the Eyes Open Network. I work at Christians Against Poverty (CAP) as well as studying a masters degree part-time in International Relations.
In our small group, we have recently gone through the prayer course (prayercourse.org) which I suppose was the start of us talking about the impact that we can have in society as Christians and the upcoming elections as well. As people in our 20s and 30s, many of us don’t have a clue who to vote for and feel very distant from the politicians who represent us. We know that it’s important for us to engage in the upcoming election, but we don’t know how to. That’s why we decided to invite some of the candidates who are standing for council and parliament across Leeds to come and talk to us. We wanted to know what they thought about how we should vote, and try to start engaging with the issues that are important in this election as well.
We had four different candidates, representing different parties in different constituencies, from across Leeds. Over thirty people came and we used the letter that the bishops had written about the General Election to start off our discussions, asking whether the candidates thought we lived in a ‘society of strangers’ and what we should do about it. As we continued with our questions, the thing that struck me the most was that no-one was asking selfish questions!
A lot of what we hear of the election campaign in the media is focused on ‘which party will I be better off under?’ A bit of a ‘what’s in it for me?’ attitude, I suppose. This is something that our generation (‘Gen Y’) is often criticized for; being a selfish, consumeristic generation who only care about themselves. However, our questions, as young professional Christians in Leeds, were mainly around protecting the vulnerable in our society, and our politicians having integrity. Whilst we all had our own viewpoint, it really felt like the main thing we cared about was seeking justice in the upcoming elections, not for ourselves but for those that lose out in society: especially the vulnerable and the lonely. I was reminded of Micah 6:8:
To be honest, by the end of the evening I’m not sure any of us were that much clearer on who we are going to vote for! But what I was struck by is that the young professionals at St George’s are a group that we should be proud of! We are people who are trying to live like Micah tells us to; in our jobs, in our relationships and in the way we vote too. We are trying to be God’s salt and light in Leeds and whoever we end up voting for in this election, we want to do it with integrity, hopefully bringing a small part of God’s kingdom to Leeds in the process.