Running for the future: the world we are trying to build

By Virginia Moffatt
October 7, 2014

When my twin sister and I were very sick with the measles, aged six, it didn’t even occur to me that a home visit from the doctor was anything less than our due. I bet it occurred to my parents though. Having grown up in a world without the NHS, I bet they were grateful that they didn’t have to think about how to pay the doctor for his trouble, or for the medicines he left that helped relieve our symptoms and reduce the fever that was undoubtedly causing them concern.

I was born into a country where free education was my right. How casually I accepted that right! My friend’s older sister was the last of the generation to leave school at fourteen, it never crossed my mind that she might have been disadvantaged by this fact. And when I went to University, I was able to claim a student grant. Although my father had to work hard to top it up, and although I always ended up with an overdraft at the end of term, I was able to get through life as a student without the need for a job, except in the holidays. Not only did I have plenty of time to study, but I was also able to take part in a range of student societies that included community action, Amnesty International, the Catholic Chaplaincy, a vegetarian cafe, a counselling project. All of which gave me unique opportunities to develop skills for organising, accounting and leadership, skills which have stood me well in the workplace.

The world I grew up in wasn’t perfect. My teenage years were overshadowed by the fear of nuclear war. Cruise missiles came to Greenham and Molesworth. The war in Northern Ireland rumbled continuously in the background, and when I was 16, the Falkands War gave me my first taste of government propaganda and gung-ho militarism. Nonetheless, it felt a safer, more optimistic place then it does today. Because in the last thirty years it seems to me that governments have become less accountable, more militaristic, more abusive, caring more for the interests of big business than the common good of the people. From the Snowden revelations, to perpetual war in the middle east, from endless austerity to threats to the Human Rights Act, it feels like everything is getting worse for everybody but the privileged few at the top.

In December 1998, I woke to the first set of contractions that would eventually herald the arrival of our eldest daughter, and to the news that America had launched air strikes on Iraq. It depresses the hell out of me that as she approaches her sixteenth birthday, the only solution the West has to the violence of ISIS in Iraq is yet more airstrikes. And that the NHS that helped deliver our three children safely, and ensure good healthcare during their early years, is under threat.

It is horrible knowing that unlike me, they will have to take out crippling loans to fund their education, and their post-university future is likely to be far more uncertain than mine was. Every parent wants the best for their children, and yet I fear the world they will soon be entering as adults will provide them with fewer opportunities, fewer rights, and a poorer quality of life.

Which is why I came to work at Ekklesia. Because I want to be part of an organisation that is committed to creating a better world. One that says there are alternatives to war, Osbornomics,
and the constant assault on the poor . I want to build a world where everyone has a right to free healthcare, to social care if they need it, to housing, to education. I want to build a world where nonviolence is the first response to conflict rather than the last, and where governments respect the rights of their citizens instead of spying on them and restricting opportunities for dissent. I want a world that has a place for everyone at the table and not just the one per cent.

On Sunday, as I completed my last long run before next week’s race, I found myself besides the river at Abingdon. The sun was shining, the water calm, family groups were enjoying a last bit of warmth before autumn sets in. It was a peaceful scene, and my final thought as I headed back was, everyone the whole world over needs such peace. Ekklesia is working for just such a world. Together, we can make it happen.

* I am running the Oxford Half Marathon on Sunday 12th October, to raise funds for Ekklesia's work. If you would like to support the work of Ekklesia, please do make a donation through Paypal

* Alternatively please send a donation to the Ekklesia office, Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church, 235 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8EP making it clear that your donation is in support of my run. You can follow my progress on @run_ekklesia and see previous blogs here:


© Virginia Moffatt is chief operating officer of Ekklesia.

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.