The Personal is Political

The personal is political.  This phrase, borrowed from second wave feminists in the 1960s, seems like an appropriate challenge as we travel through Living Lent together. 

I don’t know how you and your household have responded so far to the climate change challenges of Living Lent?  Perhaps you have been trying hard to buy food without plastic packaging or discovering shops which source food locally?  Perhaps you have had your bike serviced or are now an expert on local bus routes?  Or maybe you have been reducing meat in your diet or weaning yourself off electricity?

Your chosen challenge may feel as if it is dominating your time, shopping or even social media posts at the moment.  And hopefully it will make a big difference to the way you are living your life and looking at climate change.

Yet, to be frank, my personal contribution to tackling climate change this Lent will be miniscule.  In reality, the reduction in meat purchased and consumed by our family, the miles travelled by bike or the plastic avoided, will have no impact at all on industry or on carbon emissions.  So why bother?

Climate change will not be tackled without extraordinary efforts and commitment by governments and by multinational industries.  Exceptional lifestyle change, initiated by changing patterns in society and industry, are needed, particularly within the global north.

And yet we are not powerless.  Governments respond to voters.  Businesses respond to consumers. 

And so, political change requires personal transformation.  A change in mind-sets, a revolution of expectations, a shift of consensus.  Change begins with the transformation of individuals.  This isn’t trickle down – it’s people up!

Together, our personal experiences become political.  Perhaps one of the things to do this Lent would be to write to your MP, to write to your energy supplier, to write to your local supermarket to tell them what you are doing and why.  It is this way that our personal transformation can lead to the political transformation we need.

One of the ways you can do this is by getting involved on Tuesdays, with our ‘Call to Action’ prompts. Here, we will be highlighting some of the current campaigns and initiatives taking place to address some of these wider issues. Take a look on our blog for the first few of these.

Lent is a time of testing, of transformation, of discipline, a time for deepening our relationship with God.  We should not emerge from our time in the wilderness – whatever that wilderness looks like for you – unchanged.  We are opening ourselves up to be changed, permanently, unexpectedly, personally and corporately, this Lent. 

Rachel Lampard is Team Leader of the Joint Public Issues Team. She has worked for the Methodist Church as Secretary for Parliamentary and Political Affairs since 2000. She was a Commissioner with the Gambling Commission, responsible for regulating the gambling industry in the public interest, for 9 years. She was the Vice-President of the Methodist Conference 2016/17.