Hope and trust in the election campaign

By Bernadette Meaden
May 29, 2017

On World Communications Day yesterday (28 May 2017) Pope Francis delivered a message which seemed particularly relevant to the UK as we navigate the General Election campaign. The theme this year was Communicating Hope and Trust in Our Time. 

Pope Francis said, “Access to the media – thanks to technological progress – makes it possible for countless people to share news instantly and spread it widely. That news may be good or bad, true or false. The early Christians compared the human mind to a constantly grinding millstone; it is up to the miller to determine what it will grind: good wheat or worthless weeds. Our minds are always "grinding", but it is up to us to choose what to feed them.

"I wish to address this message to all those who, whether in their professional work or personal relationships, are like that mill, daily 'grinding out' information with the aim of providing rich fare for those with whom they communicate. I would like to encourage everyone to engage in constructive forms of communication that reject prejudice towards others and foster a culture of encounter, helping all of us to view the world around us with realism and trust.

"I am convinced that we have to break the vicious circle of anxiety and stem the spiral of fear resulting from a constant focus on 'bad news' (wars, terrorism, scandals and all sorts of human failure). This has nothing to do with spreading misinformation that would ignore the tragedy of human suffering, nor is it about a naive optimism blind to the scandal of evil. Rather, I propose that all of us work at overcoming that feeling of growing discontent and resignation that can at times generate apathy, fear or the idea that evil has no limits. Moreover, in a communications industry which thinks that good news does not sell, and where the tragedy of human suffering and the mystery of evil easily turn into entertainment, there is always the temptation that our consciences can be dulled or slip into pessimism.

"I would like, then, to contribute to the search for an open and creative style of communication that never seeks to glamourise evil but instead to concentrate on solutions and to inspire a positive and responsible approach on the part of its recipients. I ask everyone to offer the people of our time storylines that are at heart 'good news'"

This message may seem impossibly idealistic, especially so soon after the recent horrific bombing in Manchester, and at the height of an election campaign. These are grim and anxious times for many people, and they would rightly be scornful of banal platitudes and trite positivity. Terrorism, poverty, homelessness and all the other problems we face can sometimes seem overwhelming and insoluble. But that is all the more reason to guard against defeatism, negativity and apathy, and to engage in public debate with honesty, courage, and courtesy.

Many thousands of people, particularly young people, have registered to vote in recent days. As they prepare to vote for the first time, let us in all our communications, our conversations and the information we share, try to give them a reason to vote for something good, a reason to vote with hope and trust. Maybe not trust in politicians, but trust in each other, and in our communities, and in the belief that we can stand together in solidarity, and support each other in the months and years to come, whatever the outcome of the election. Let us make what is left of the election campaign an opportunity to inform and inspire people to reject meanness, hostility and mistrust, and demand of our politicians a politics that is worthy of the best of us.

You can read the full text of Pope Francis’ message here

Ekklesia's General Election theme for 2017 is #Vote4CommonGood. This will be explored by writers and researchers from different perspectives and backgrounds, as well as analysis of the different party manifestos in relation to the principles and policies we have advocated for many years.

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© Bernadette Meaden has written about political, religious and social issues for some years, and is strongly influenced by Christian Socialism, liberation theology and the Catholic Worker movement. She is an Ekklesia associate and regular contributor. You can follow her on Twitter: @BernaMeaden 

Ekklesia's General Election theme for 2017 is #Vote4CommonGood. This will be explored by writers and researchers from different perspectives and backgrounds, as well as analysis of the different party manifestos in relation to the principles and policies we have advocated for many years. See:  http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/vote4commongoodintro

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.