Friday 8th May marks the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) Day, when Nazi Germany’s armed forces unconditionally surrendered to the Allies. The Second World War was a fight for democracy, and the events to commemorate VE day are a timely and important reminder of the huge sacrifices made on our behalf to secure the peace and freedom that we enjoy to this day. This includes the right to vote in elections, a freedom many of us take for granted, but which is still denied to many people in the world.
I believe voting in elections is not only a right, but also a responsibility. But in the 2010 general election there were 15.9 million non-voters, people who saw no point in voting, or didn’t believe their vote would make any difference. Imagine what impact they could have had if they had voted.
The General Election, being held today (Thursday 7th May) is one of the most important and closely contested elections in decades. However flawed we may feel our political system and leaders may be, it is in parliament that the policies which shape and influence our country are made. If we want to have a say in what sort of society we live in, we need to engage with the democratic process. As the Burmese pro-democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi said, “I always tried to explain that democracy is not perfect. But it gives you the chance to create your destiny.”
In the Lord’s Prayer Jesus taught us to pray that God’s kingdom come, and will be done on earth as it is in heaven. God’s desire is for every sphere of culture to be transformed, business, media, education, health, arts, religion, family and politics. It is through the democratic process, that we can seek to promote the common good in our community, a small but important way that we strive to build a more just and merciful society. If we care about the sort of society we want to live in, if we care about the things that matter to God, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and justice for the poor, then we need to make our voices heard on May 7th.
As VE Day reminds us, someone paid the price for your right to vote. Use it.