Vicar's Letter - 18.03

    Vicar’s Letter – Love Your Neighbour

There comes a time when you have to say something even if you know that some people will disagree with you. The thing that has finally bubbled up is my impatience with those who criticize our nation’s foreign aid giving. Various newspapers’ articles regularly call this budget bloated, obscene or indefensible. We have a commitment to give 0.7 per cent of our national income to developing nations, which amounts to £13.4 billion. So less than 1 per cent of what we earn each year is given to our neighbours overseas.

I can see that sometimes bad decisions have been made in how to spend this money but is it really too much to expect a nation with the resources that we have to support those in desperate need. So here are my three big reasons why this money is well spent and you can see if they make any sense to you.

Being generous is good for the soul of our nation. There was a time when Great Britain had an empire that stretched all around the world. At that time we contributed to the development of many nations and in return we took enormous amounts of resources and raw materials from them in order to build our cities and infrastructure. Our wealth is built on the foundations that were laid in those days when we could trade on our own terms. We became Great Britain when our economy was boosted by what we took from our colonies. So it is good for our national soul to continue to honour those values by offering support to people from the wealth that they helped to create. 

Supporting the development of others makes the world a more stable place. It is an accepted fact that poverty and inequality breed dangerous discontent. If we leave third world countries without hope then they will only produce the extremists who become suicide bombers because there is no earthly reason for them to continue to live. If we fail to support weak nations then they descend into war and violence, which results in millions of refugees seeking safety. Inevitably some of those who are displaced will end up on our shores no matter how much we try to control our borders.

Giving aid to others makes us less selfish people. Our Christian heritage teaches us that when we hold onto our wealth too tightly it is likely to slip through our fingers. The golden rule of the Sermon on the Mount is to do unto others as you would have them do to you. If we can bring ourselves to give to others then there is hope for us all in our society that we might be able to share more equally the riches that we have.

You may not agree at all but I feel proud that we have managed to hold onto this commitment during the times of difficult austerity that we face.

May the generous God of all joy and hope be with us,                        Neil


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