Our re-elected South West England MEP Molly Scott Cato writes for Bath Quaker News about her faith and political life.
I find some of our advices and queries to be invaluable in supporting my public work but the most useful phrase that comes back to me is a short piece of poetry from DH Lawrence:
Not I, not I, but the wind that blows through me!
A fine wind is blowing the new direction of Time.
If only I let it bear me, carry me, if only it carry me!
This helps me to put my ego to one side and to realise that being a politician is not just about public service but also a response to a deeper energy and a more grounded sense of purpose. I am probably a better Taoist than I am a Quaker and I am always interested by the idea that if you are a good leader then ultimately everybody will forget you and they will take credit for changing the world themselves. I find this much more spiritually wholesome than the personality politics that is flourishing all around us. I feel that the projection of one’s own aspirations onto another person – or your ideal of that person – will lead to disappointment and is ultimately undermining of a flourishing democracy.
It’s obvious that conflict is inherent in politics and this can be uncomfortable for anybody who believes in peace and consensus. I find that our Quaker philosophy has a good balance between strong principles, based in conscience, and a commitment to valuing the life experience and motivations of others. Here the advice that we should ‘try to enter imaginatively into the life and witness of other communities‘ and especially ‘Think it possible that you may be mistaken‘ is invaluable. Even in the heat of disagreement, I find that if I can take a step back and try to understand why others are disagreeing with me so strongly it can really help to diffuse the emotional tension and to find a place of agreement.
Throughout my political work I have been surrounded with love and support from Friends. It was an amazing feeling being released from a small, rural police station after occupying a nuclear missile dump in Belgium and to find on my twitter feed a message from Quakers in Britain letting me know that they were upholding me in my action. How many politicians could benefit from that sort of support. And I have also received practical and personal support as well, including from the excellent team at Quaker House in Brussels.
Quakers are a strong community and the knowledge that they are carefully and thoughtfully supporting my work is a great and much appreciated source of energy and comfort.
Molly Scott Cato is the recently re-elected Green Party Member of the European Parliament for South West England.