Ideology. Now there’s a loaded word. It tends to be associated these days with hard-liners and loonies. It’s an old-fashioned kind of concept. But what it means is the system by which you hold to your principles. The foundation on which you build your decisions.
There is a dearth of ideology in the public sphere. It used it be that – politically – the parties were ideologically motivated, and were overt in that. Now, ideology is generally second-best to whatever works for me right now. Which means – politically – that like chameleons we will change our policies to keep public opinion on our side.
Maybe it has always been so. There is no golden era. But currently that dearth of political ideology – other than the need for power and control – sits alongside a dearth of social ideology too. We the public don’t really know what we stand for either. So we don’t notice that those in power don’t stand for us, because we don’t what it would mean if they did.
Why am I saying this? The Government’s response to the British men going to fight for the IS militants in Iraq and Syria. Those young men have at least one thing most of their peers do not – an ideology. Albeit a terrifying one – 13th century ideology & theology with 21st century weapons is a horrific combination. The Government’s response is about power and control. As it has been with dealing with the deficit. In this case, it is to take away passports; to deny British citizens their citizenship.
While it might sound a good ‘robust’ approach, it doesn’t get underneath the problem and ask why it is that British-born young men are able to be so convinced by such an inhumane ideology. Is it because there is nothing to counter it? Instead of threatening to take away passports after the event, we should be working alongside our youth – regardless of religion or background – helping them to understand themselves, to find they way in the world, to work out what is important to them and why.
This used to be called education. Youth work. This was where it happened. But now education is basically exam-factory and youth work is all but disappeared. We need it back! We need our young people to know what they stand for, to understand their ideology, even when they don’t realise they have one.
Christians have an ideology. We don’t always get it right, but mostly we know what we stand for. To love God, and to love our neighbour. Jesus said blessed are the poor in spirit, the humble, the mourners, the peacemakers, the gentle. That is a confident, robust ideology that turns power and control and money-making on its head. That seems like a good place to start.
See more spoken word from Dai Woolridge at Spoken-truth.com