This week I was at Oxford University for the launch of a scholarly book on Islam written by my friend Professor Terry Lovat and Amir Moghadam. I worked with Terry in Australia when the country introduced Values Education into its schools. I wanted to share with him current developments being undertaken by the International Values-based Trust (IVET) of which he is an eminent Patron.
During our wide-ranging discussion we spoke about the forth coming general Election in the UK and the dilemma so many people face trying to make a decision about which political party to support. This, we agreed, is made so much more difficult because of the manoeuvring of facts and half-truths and how the media manipulates news into spin. I reflected on the debate on ITV that focussed on the two main party leaders; how predictably the next day the national newspapers, depending on their political loyalties, gave unquestioning support to their chosen candidate.
So how should we make up our minds on polling day? My own view is that we should first reflect on what drives our own decision-making? Is it self-interest, greed or fear? Or do we decide based on more altruistic reasons, such as the general welfare of the United Kingdom and the world? Once we have squared our own conscience and recognised our own inbuilt biases, then the next step is to make a decision based on what we know about the lived values of the candidates in our voting constituency. We should be guided to support them not by historic party loyalties but by the answers to some basic questions about what their record reveals about them as people:
Are they honest?
Have they integrity?
Do they treat others with respect and compassion?
Do they live and work for a higher moral purpose other than their desire to win power?
Can they be trusted?
These are difficult and penetrating questions, which if we consider and act on would more likely bring a result in the election, which the candidates and our country deserve.
Do you agree?