Tuesday, 18 May 2010

One thing at a time

I’m one of those people who like to help everyone in that I keep saying “yes”. Up until a few weeks ago, I was doing a full time job of 37 hours not to mention trips to Edinburgh, writing services and preaching on a Sunday, studying for the Advanced part of my Worship Studies Course, trying to keep a house clean and tidy and supporting a disabled partner with the blues, not to mention various tasks I’d taken on from Chapel and various Unitarian committees. I love having plenty to do, being needed, and making a difference, so when there’s anything that needs doing that I believe is right, my hand is up and volunteering.

Was I really surprised when, a few months ago, my doctor signed me off from work; the reason on the sick-note given was “Burn out”. I was off from my full time job for 6 weeks. I kept on with everything else because most of it was to do with Chapel and I desperately needed to keep my spiritual side alive and kicking, a bit like a “comfort blanket”.

My situation has now changed somewhat as I was made redundant from my full time employment at the end of April, supposedly leaving me 37 hours free to do all the other things I’ve been doing in a more relaxed timescale but within days I was wondering how I ever managed to do a full time job because my days are still chock-a-block, although, I have to admit, I don’t feel like I’m chasing my own tail anymore.

Today, temptation stared me in the face again. Out of the blue, some weeks ago, I received an invite to the NSPCC Volunteer Conference. I’ve been donating to Childline for some time, as this has been the charity closest to my heart for at least 20 years. Childline is now part of the NSPCC but still runs under its original name. I went along hoping to find ways of continuing my support now that my financial position has changed, with no employment income.

I would never describe myself as particularly maternal but I cannot abide cruelty to Children or the idea that a child may not have anyone to turn to for help and has to suffer alone. There I sat today, being given statistics I already knew but suddenly, being spoken from someone else’s lips became more poignant, and scenarios that I wanted to repel and yet I knew how true they were and I sat there mentally thinking of what I could do to raise more money. I guess that was the whole point of the day, but I tend to take things as personal tasks and that’s where I go wrong every time.

I’m gonna be brave here and state, for everyone to see, that Childline would have changed my life immensely had it been around when I was a child and I will continue to support it for as long as me and they exist but I’ve got to sit back. I will find a way of still raising money or donating but I can’t do it in the big way I would like but I can make sure I bring it to peoples attention as often as possible. It takes just £4 to answer another call to Childline. If everyone donated this amount just once a year, we could ensure that all children had the support and guidance they may need desperately, and whether we like it or not, that could be the kids in our own families.

As for me, my partner now has to be at my side to knock me down to Earth and stop me taking on things that stretch me beyond reasonable ability. I don’t want to make myself ill again, but, I don’t want to let go of the things that matter. Guess I’ll have to learn to take one thing at a time and make the small things count. Does that sound like a solution to you?

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Democracy vs. conscience

It’s Election day, the day we, the public, go to our local polling station and vote for who we feel will run our country responsibly and reliably for the coming 4 to 5 years. Since I became old enough to vote, I’ve fully believed in the system we have here in the UK, and I’ve fulfilled my democratic right to vote with my own sense of responsibility and, to a certain extent, pride in being part of the system, but this day, this election, I am struggling with my choices. The Polling Stations are open but my conscience troubles me.

Following the Expenses Scandal, that hit the headlines a year ago and then the following programme regarding Lobbying, this Spring, my trust in our politicians has been crushed, totally.

It seems to me impossible or extremely naive for any MP who was not involved in the expenses scandal to say they didn’t know the system was being abused. This means that either way, my trust is gone.

I live in a constituency that has no Independent candidate, so how can I vote and keep a clear conscience?

Surely, the system was developed on the principle of who I “trust” our country’s future with? My right to vote was not given to me with “which thief would you prefer” in mind. Those who fought so hard to give us the right to make such important decisions on our future must be turning in their graves at the utter destruction of their dreams for democracy.

I’m left with a problem, if I don’t vote I have to live with that knowledge for at least 4 years and will not have the right to complain if things go “belly up”. If I do vote, I have no choice but to put my X against someone I don’t trust and that surely defeats the object of the whole exercise?

My conscience is in turmoil and yet the hours are ticking away. What will I do? Which course of action is truly right? I have to decide quickly and it’s not easy.
May God be with me in my final decision?