What sort of society do we want? That was the basic question we had to answer in the General Election earlier in the year. Our answer will determine how we respond to the increased threat of terrorism, how we "modernize" political structures, and how we develop our welfare systems.
It was a very real question back in the dark days of the Second World War. We fought a long and bitter struggle against a terrible racist tyranny, and great were the sacrifices made to defend the things our nation held dear. Of all the many wars of the twentieth century, this one was not a matter of national pride or national greed, but of basic, decent human values.
This year has marked the 60th anniversary of that conflict - possibly the last major anniversary to be observed by large numbers of those directly involved. As we honour the memories of those who fought and the many who died to defend liberty and the fundamental values of our Christian civilization, we need to recapture the vision of those difficult days. The finest tribute we can pay to their memory is to reshape our society to embody once more the values they held dear.
This is not just a task for government, but for every one of us. People often talk nostalgically about the community spirit, the caring and sharing, the respect for others, the honesty and public responsibility which marked those days. They could be ours again - if our desire for them is sufficiently strong for us to do something positive to recreate them. The first step must be to cherish those values in our own lives and to express them in our own everyday conduct. If we want to banish greed and selfishness, the only effective place to start is with ourselves. And if we want to renew our society, some people must be prepared to risk taking the first step. We have waited too long for someone else to make the first move - now it's up to us!
If we want to get back to a decent society, which values both freedom and responsibility, a society which treats the less fortunate with the same consideration as the successful, now's the time to start. Britain in the 1940's was not an ideal society - far from it; but people then had a vision of what they wanted their society to be like, and they were prepared to work and make real sacrifices for it. Are we their true heirs? MALCOLM
- February 2005
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About the Vicar's Letter
The Vicar's Letter has been appearing in the villages Focus magazine since August 2002.
The Rev. Peter Graham also used to publish The Vicar's Letter in the parish magazine of 1964. Please see the Vicar's Letter area for these.