Thursday, 22 March 2012

Budgeting for responsibility ?

Post by Ash
A budget speech from any Chancellor of the Exchequer can generally be relied upon to stir the emotions. Yesterday`s speech by George Osborne was no exception. The following extract though is about a very different kind of `budget`- that of a `life well-led`. It`s taken from the `The Ethics Of Responsibility` by the Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, and perhaps provides us all with a few fundamental reminders of the things that should really be `taxing` us.

`More than any previous generation in history, we have come to see the individual as the sole source of meaning.....But this selfish quest must surely be wrong. A life....spent pursuing the satisfaction of desire is less than satisfying and never actually provides all we desire. So it is worth reminding ourselves that there is such a thing as ethics, and it belongs to the life we live together and the goods we share—the goods that only exist in virtue of being shared.
This speaks to one of Judaism’s most distinctive and challenging ideas: the ethics of responsibility, the idea that God invites us to become, in the rabbinic phrase, His “partners in the work of creation.” .......Life is God’s call to responsibility and this ethic is the best answer I know to the meaning and meaningfulness of life.

When I first became a rabbi, the most difficult duty I had to perform was a funeral service. New to the position and the people, I often hardly knew the deceased, while to everyone else present he or she had been a member of the family, or an old and close friend. There was nothing to do but to get help from others. I would ask them what the person who had died meant to them. It did not take long before I recognized a pattern in their replies.
Usually they would say the deceased had been a supportive husband or wife, a loving parent, a loyal friend. They spoke about the good they had done to others, often quietly, discreetly, without ostentation. When you needed them, they were there. They shouldered their responsibilities to the community. They gave to charitable causes, and if they could not give money, they gave time. Those most mourned and missed were not the most successful, rich, or famous. They were the people who enhanced the lives of others. These were the people who were loved.

Monday, 12 March 2012

State sponsored Britishness?

Post by Liz.
There has been a great deal of talk in recent weeks of what it means to be British. Many people cry out that we have lost our identity or that our identity is being taken away from us. The Government is on a campaign to right this terrible wrong. Christianity is to be put at the fore, bibles are to be issued to every school child in Britain whether they welcome it or not, the Forward being written by non other than the Godly Gove himself. History of Empire will be taught with greater gusto in schools and our children will feel proud to be British. We shall turn our faces away from un-British things such as poverty and homelessness, we shall celebrate the mighty Olympics and worship our sporting heroes and ignore the fact that people are being priced out from their rented accommodation for this occasion, that people's homes have been destroyed and allotments given to these (not well off) people in perpetuity have been concreted over. There will be no such thing as increased human trafficking and prostitution, the 'riff-raff' are to be cleared from the London streets as I write. We shall ignore the approximately 14 billion it is costing in these times of austerity, which is more than enough to save welfare and the NHS. But I'm sure it will be a grand spectacle, I don't know, because I will not be watching it. But no one does pomp and circumstance like the British eh?

Monday, 5 March 2012

Metta matters

Post by Liz

Metta – The Practice of Loving-Kindness

I've been thinking about many things today. I have much to write about at the moment, there are many concerns both at home in our country and in the wider world and a great many wrongs being committed. The world feels particularly unbalanced at the moment. Sometimes I seem to be on an endless campaign taking up hours of my time passing on information, signing petitions, writing letters, just being generally bothersome both to the people I'm targeting and my family and friends, who probably by now just roll their eyes and think 'Oh, she's off on one again.' I could write a near endless list of all the wrongs in the world from the seeming callousness of Government, the greed of capitalism destroying the only home we have and the lives of human and non-human in it's wake. The horrors of war and genocide and the constant drum beat and sabre rattling towards Iran. The poverty, inequality, and cruelty. And I rage. Some may say I am just passionate about these things. But some days I really do rage against the injustices in the world. Some days it overwhelms me and I feel helpless and hopeless. But I listened to someone speak today, amongst many things two words stood out particularly. Ethics and stillness.