It’s been quite a strange experience to be away from the Motherland during General Election time. Not much outside the US is covered by American news shows, so I’ve been following as closely as I can via the BBC website. Trying to figure out all the implications, possible outcomes and constitutional issues involved with a hung parliament has been quite tough without the help of Moira Steward or Andrew Marr to explain things to me. (You can’t access i-player from over here, so no news watching for me).
The one video clip I have managed to see was really intriguing though. In his first speech outside No.10, David Cameron said “we don’t just ask what are my entitlements, but what are my responsibilities… we don’t just ask what am I owed, but more what can I give.” This caught my attention, because I have heard (or read) very similar sentiments from an ethicist/theologian for whom I have enormous respect – one Stanley Hauerwas.
While researching an ethics paper, I came across a Hauerwas article in which he cites a sermon one of his students wrote. She argued that the Christian community must ”focus on responsibility rather than rights.” Hauerwas goes on to develop the argument, talking about how we must move beyond rights language and thinking, in order to live as a real community, rather than a bunch of autonomous individuals.
So I’m interested that David Cameron, the new Prime Minister of Great Britain, also seems to be thinking the same way. Of course, it may all be rhetoric and smooth talking, and my hope for the world certainly isn’t in politics. But you’ve got to begin somewhere and agreeing with Stanley Hauerwas is no bad place, in my opinion.