What do you think is a reasonable minimum wage? A lot depends on what you think is a good lifestyle. Running a car might be a luxury for some but essential for others (if you live in a village with no bus service or have elderly relatives who need help with shopping). But running a car is expensive. So should the minimum wage cover this?
It’s very hard to agree on the exact level of a minimum wage. But the principle is so important. Paying people a fair wage for a fair days work is the foundation of our economy. Of course this has to be balanced with the need for employers to be able to compete with companies in other parts of the world. But that’s the task of government – to balance freedom with care of the vulnerable.
So perhaps the more relevant question is what do you think is a reasonable maximum wage? There are now over 100 billionaires in the UK with a combined wealth of £301bn and this number has more than tripled in the last ten years. Some of these people may be very generous with their wealth but we should at least question why the rich are getting richer at a much faster rate than the rest of society.
Increasing the minimum wage by even a small amount would cost nothing next to the current increase in maximum wages.
The Rt Revd Martyn Snow, Bishop of Tewkesbury
This article originally appeared in The Gloucester Citizen
In 1714, the British government offered the Longitude Prize to the person who could come up with the means to allow sailors to know accurately where they were at sea. The prize was finally won over fifty years later by an obscure clockmaker called John Harrison who had made this project his life’s work. But his efforts revolutionised global navigation and helped create our modern world.
Now, 300 years on, a new Longitude Prize of £10 million has been announced, to be awarded in one of the following six areas: finding a means to ensure that everyone has access to safe and clean water; preventing the rise of resistance to antibiotics; restoring freedom of movement to people with paralysis; finding a means of flying without damaging the environment; fighting world hunger by ensuring sustainable food for everyone; or helping people with dementia live independently for longer.
A public vote will decide which of these six categories is chosen for the prize itself. The Astronomer Royal has rightly described the prize as being about encouraging ‘fresh thinking’ in helping to solve one of the greatest problems our society faces.
It seems to me that the Longitude Prize could become a real celebration of human creativity and ingenuity. Our creativity is given to us by God. We have tremendous capacity to be creative because we share in the image of the God who created us.
At the beginning, God told human beings to be fruitful, to fill the earth and subdue it. So we find ourselves with the awesome privilege and responsibility of sharing in the stewardship of God’s creation. This means using our creativity for good, caring for the earth and for our brothers and sisters who live in it. What could be a more rewarding life’s work – a vocation, even – than that?
The Revd John Paul Hoskins, Chaplain to the Bishop of Gloucester
During the last few weeks I’ve been involved in trying to set up hustings for the European Elections. The political parties that we’ve spoken to have been hugely grateful that someone is taking an interest in the elections: at the grass roots such interest is generally pretty minimal.
Why is this? Some will say it’s because people are rather cynical about politicians or that European politics doesn’t seem immediate enough to raise interest. Others will say that it’s a failure on the part of politicians and the media to properly engage us with political debate. Others again might argue that indifference to the elections reflects a belief that it is large multi-national companies and financial bodies that now have far more influence over the way we live than anything that happens in national or European parliaments.
Yet I believe that the European elections do matter. They matter, because, like or not, politics still matters. Our elected representatives and governments still wield power and influence over our daily lives. The laws they frame, for good or ill, shape our society. If we want to influence that, we need to vote and our politicians need to know they have an engaged electorate who is watching what they do. We also need our politicians to feel they have a strong mandate from their voters to hold government to account, while themselves being accountable to us. In so many parts of the world people are making huge sacrifices in order to have the right to vote. Let’s be engaged and not indifferent to the political process.
The Revd Canon Andrew Braddock, Director of the Dept of Mission and Ministry
I suspect you will have seen a story like this before:
An old man walked the beach at dawn, he noticed a young man ahead of him picking up starfish and flinging them into the sea. Finally catching up with the youth, he asked him why he was doing this. The answer was that the stranded starfish would die if left until the morning sun. “But the beach goes on for miles and there are millions of starfish”, countered the other, “how can your efforts make any difference?” The young man looked at the starfish in his hand and then threw it to safety in the waves. “It makes a difference to this one”, he said.
Perhaps you have had the experience of seeing a situation that needs urgent change yet nobody seems to respond. These days we are literally bombarded by news stories from around the world telling of all manner of disaster, distress and difficulty. What can we do to locate a missing aeroplane or rescue abducted children in a faraway land? It is perhaps not surprising then that many of us feel powerless or even numbed to the plight of others, but surely, this cannot be justification to do nothing.
When I turned 30 (almost a decade ago!) I told friends not to buy presents as there was nothing I really wanted or needed. A rather disappointed church member suggested that rather than miss the occasion I should have a collection for a charity or cause that meant something to me……but…….I didn’t actually have one. After a bit of thought and prayer I opted for a dilapidated hospital in rural Uganda that the church supported and we sent them the monies donated by friends and family and I thought nothing more about it. After a few months, a letter and video tape arrived in the post. The letter was overflowing with gratitude for the gift and I felt a bit embarrassed that I had almost forgotten all about it. The video was an interesting assortment of interviews with hospital staff together with a guided tour of this impoverished facility before they proudly unveiled the new mattresses they had bought with my birthday collection. It had changed the hospital facilities beyond their dreams and they were overjoyed. I was ashamed at my lack of compassion and for a number of months could not get the broken hospital out of my thoughts and prayers.
More recently, we uncovered a situation in our community that needed urgent resolution but it was complex and messy. As I prayed and asked the Lord to resolve the situation I heard a clear response ‘you are the solution, you know what to do’. Within a few weeks the situation was resolved as the local church stepped in to offer practical support. It was messy but it was definitely the right thing to do. I wonder if we can comprehend what life would be like if we all responded with compassion to some need or situation today. What could we do to change a situation today? There is only one way to find out!
The Revd Andrew Axon, Priest in Charge, Hucclecote Benefice
On the morning school run recently the following conversation occurred in our car…
‘Why do we go to church, Fynn?’
‘To understand Mister God more.’
‘To understand Mister God less.’
‘Wait a minute. You’re flipped!’
‘No, I’m not.’
‘You most certainly are.’
‘No. You go to church to make Mister God really really big. When you make Mister God really really really big, then you really really don’t understand Mister God – then you do.’
Not me and my children, I’m afraid, would that we were awake enough at 8am to have such theological discussions, but the ‘Mister God, this is Anna’ audio book which we’ve all got hooked on. I first read it in my early twenties and to be honest, my own reflections don’t get any wiser than this.
There was a time when I read the Bible for answers – I studied hard to work out what, on earth, God was doing. But the Bible wouldn’t give me answers, just more questions. The world around us is obsessed by answers. What caused the Korean ferry disaster? Who was responsible? Where was God? So it is frankly a relief to go to church where my questions do not have to be answered, and my uncertainties are not seen as weaknesses and it is OK not to be OK – because in church God is really really big and God can cope. Everyday life seems to become more and more cramped so I need the church to be spacious, resilient, and safe. If my soul has room to breathe, I don’t need to understand in order to be fully alive in Christ.
Ian Bussell, Diocesan Director of Ordinands and Curate Training