Guest thoughts

Last week, I had a conversation at the university chaplaincy with a couple of the honorary chaplains. As always, I enjoyed learning about different people’s backgrounds, and the beliefs that inspire and motivate them, and of course I also enjoyed sharing my own perspective.

One of them, Richard Frazer, showed us a “Practical Ballad” he had written. It was inspired by an event at the chaplaincy, which he describes below. I liked the ballad, and invited him to share it on this blog. Here are his thoughts, followed by the ballad itself.

I attach my practical ballad: it is not at all poetic, but as I said, the University Chaplaincy has arranged these multi faith public conversations and this one was about the state of the global economy following the global financial meltdown of 2008.

The speakers represented a range of world faiths and none and their perspectives were wide ranging, though all, it seemed to me, were saying similar things which had something to do with justice for the poor and justice for the earth. The only person who seemed out of step was the professor of economics!

What struck me most profoundly was that each faith tradition was contributing something very deep and special to the discourse. One tradition reminds us of the importance of knowing what it is you are spending money on, another asks us to consider whether an investment is pure self indulgence, or is there a social element? It leads me to the conclusion that our way into a viable future depends upon us laying aside dogma and replacing it with the pooling of the world’s great wisdom traditions, alongside our best science. None of this threatens our traditions unless we think that the well being of our particular faith tradition depends on holding on to power and the exclusive right to be right.

A Practical Ballad

Don’t buy a thing you know nothing about,

That applies to unknown debt bought by the banks

That turns out to be toxic and worthless,

And to the ill considered, impulse item you grab on the way out of Tesco,

A thing you invariably do not need.

Does the investment you plan to make have any social element?

Will it better the world, or better only you,

And maybe damage a child or two?

Reflect again before you buy.

The true cost

In lives and land blighted,

In animal misery and the earth’s scarring would break your heart.

Surely, your prosperity does not have to depend on endless growth,

For on this planet, growth cannot be endless.

If you just cherish more the things you have,

The people you have and hold,

The beauty and craftsmanship of delightful things,

You will be rich in a new kind of way.

Let’s have economies that mirror evolution,

Change and constant adaptation,

Not policies that declare “use it all up, over live and exhaust it all”.

Justifying your actions because,

“it’s within the rules” is just a way to abdicate personal moral responsibility –

Mr Member of Parliament.

If armaments and drugs are the world’s two biggest industries,

Doesn’t that tell us about humanity’s dis – ease?

Science is telling us the world is one organic whole – Gaia.

So let’s live and work and make one whole thing of this earth

And all its people, its places and its diversity.

Learn to disagree without being divisive,

To embrace difference without being threatened.

We will need all our human powers for good,

Not one brand of ideology, to fashion the wisdom of survival.

And let us not build a society based on debt.

Let’s rediscover productive work, because, right now,

We are stealing our children’s future,

Selling it in the present,

And calling it gross domestic product.

Gross, it certainly is.

You can learn more about Rev. Dr. Richard Frazer at the Chaplaincy website, or on his own website, where he has also posted this ballad.


One Response to “Guest thoughts”

  1. Why should humanists be in chaplaincy? « Friendly Humanist Says:

    […] is also the inter-faith element*. The idea of people of different backgrounds coming together to discover common ground. And I think that’s incredibly valuable. It’s something that’s lacking from a lot […]

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