As you will know if you are a regular reader of this blog I am a regular attender at church and consider myself to be a practising Christian. So yesterday morning I took my usual place in the pews at my local church and enjoyed an excellent and thought provoking sermon delivered by The Reverend Roy Tuton who was standing in for our usual ministerial team.
In the sermon the Reverend Tuton preached from the book of Exodus and emphasised the value of difference as he pointed out that no matter where we may be in the world it is the same god who cares for and loves us all.
This god he told us, is the god of Sturgeon the god of Davidson, the god of Dugdale, the god of Harvie, and the god of Rennie. This to me was a masterstroke in how to connect with all hues and views in the rainbow which I am sure make up every parish in Scotland and really spoke to my condition as a political activist and member of the SNP.
You see this comment made me think on a similar quote by my friend and fellow poet Jim Monaghan made during the independence referendum in 2014. When chatting to me during the referendum campaign Jim said that it was important to remember that your fiercest opponent in one fight could be and more than likely would be your staunchest ally in another. Needless to say I agreed wholeheartedly with those sentiments when Jim expressed them so it should come as no surprise that I still agree with them now.
On hearing them yesterday morning I reflected during the quiet times the sermon gives us of what I may have in common with those who are my political opponents and I must admit I found admirable qualities in each and every one of them.
In Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson I found a woman of deeply held principles and though I disagree strongly with on the constitutional issue this is a woman worthy of respect who has a very likable personality.
I also have something else with Ruth, and that is that I too identify as an LGBT Christian. As she and I both know this is not an easy journey but we are I hope comforted by the fact that god has placed us in our communities to show faith to others and be living witnesses to the fact that no matter how we are perceived the inescapable truth is that god loves us all and celebrates us for who we are.
I now move on to Scottish Labour Leader Kezia Dugdale. When I thought of Kezia I thought of someone who is a lot more like me than she’d like to think. For example like me, Kezia’s politics are driven by passion and the desire to see a fairer more equal society. A classic example of this came when she led the fight to abolish pay day loans as she saw the horrors these loans brought upon the poorest and most vulnerable of our country’s citizens. Like me Kezia is a Daddy’s girl and I envy the fact that she still has hers here to take pride in her success and I know from reading his tweets just how proud of his daughter her dad actually is.
To be honest her dad, whose political leanings are closer to mine than Kezia’s is I’m sure delighted that his daughter has gone so far up the political ladder in what is after all a reasonably short period of time. Personally I think she got the right job before she was ready for it as circumstances thrust it upon her but through it all she has maintained a dignity during what have been difficult and challenging times for her party and which involved a very public coming out as a lesbian during the recent Scottish election campaign. Despite our political differences this led to me writing a poem in support of her decision to go public about her sexuality entitled Journey To Pride to show my solidarity with her on this issue.
When it comes to Patrick Harvie I could eulogise all day on the good points about the most switched on green man in Scotland. I had the privilege of campaigning with Patrick during the independence referendum and contrary to what The Daily Mail may have you believe I found him to be polite, charming, and willing to give his time to anyone if he was able to do so. I will admit I share many of Patrick’s political principles especially on sustainable communities and fracking which I pray will never be allowed to destroy Scotland for the sake of a one off payment of fool’s gold. Like Patrick I believe this would be environmental vandalism of the worst possible kind and would have profound implications for the future of our nation which would be negative and long lasting.
Finally I look at Willie Rennie who for those who don’t know is the highly optimistic leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats. I like Willie and I like his boundless enthusiasm for his party. I find it refreshing that far from giving up on them during what have obviously been a very challenging few years for them Willie is even more determined than ever to win hearts , minds, and coverts to the cause of Liberal Democracy. Trust me there are no limits to this man’s optimism he’s even tried to get me to join his party because I signed a petition agreeing with their stance on one particular issue and we all know that he has as much chance of that happening as there is of me climbing Mount Everest and I’m terrified of heights.
My fear of heights aside however Scottish politics needs people like Willie Rennie as it needs all the leaders mentioned in this post. To me and to democrats everywhere choice of political viewpoints is essential to a healthy democracy. We in Scotland are lucky to have plenty of parties to choose from. We are also at least in my opinion, fortunate that we have politicians of substance and talent who are willing to lead them and put themselves forward to take difficult and challenging decisions in the name of their beliefs.
It is thanks to my belief in the living god that I am able at least to some extent to see past the party colours and focus on the individual and the circumstances that shaped them because when it comes down to it each party member and for that matter voter no matter how similar we may be in some ways will have had different life experiences which will have played a part in who making us who we are. Now whilst I appreciate that this may be difficult for some people to understand particularly those obsessed by social class I think it is something worth celebrating that as different as we may be that one fact unites us no matter what views we hold or where we are in the world and that is that from daddy’s girls to optimists and a green man whose really switched on, every living witness knows the same god loves us all.
Love And Best Wishes