Faith and Creativity Lead Bronagh Daly reflects on casting her vote for the common good today

Today is polling day, and as I prepare to cast my vote in the general election I pray and reflect on the brave women who campaigned and sacrificed so much through their suffrage so that women like me can have a vote.

I am also drawn to Remembering Srebrenica’s theme for memorial tributes this week, which comes from the philosophy of ‘Ubuntu’, a South African term which is often translated as ‘I am because you are’.

Anti-apartheid human rights activist, Archbishop Desmond Tutu explains:

“Ubuntu speaks about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness … We are all connected. What unites us is our common humanity… We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas what you do, what I do, affects the whole world. Taking that a step further, when you do good, it spreads that goodness; it is for the whole of humanity.”

Christians, faith schools, churches and interfaith groups across the city will come together today marking the start of a week filled with powerful and emotional commemoration events, candle lightings, creating art, reciting poetry, flag raising and wreath laying to remember all the victims who suffered during the genocide of Muslim boys and men in Bosnia in 1995.

Citizens will also be gathering across Leeds today at polling stations to make the collective decision on who governs our country, with migration a hot topic on voters’ and politician’s minds alike. With political campaigns ramping up fear and hatred to win precious votes, I pray communities see through their tactics and focus on how the MP they elect will work for justice and peace, not division.

When so much of the political rhetoric in the run up to this general election has turned against marginalised groups, I was delighted that Revd Dr Inderjit Bhogal OBE called in to our office for a surprise visit yesterday whilst he was in Leeds for a national Methodist conference.

We shared a cup of tea and talked about the need to encourage communities to step up to welcome refugees and asylum seekers as we embrace a culture of encounter in our churches, schools, theatres, councils, maternity wards and universities akin to the ‘Road to Emmaus’ (Luke 24:13-35).

Revd Inderjit reminded us in his Hook Lecture last year to reflect on the core lesson of the Sanctuary movement: ‘It is in the shelter of each other that we live’, taken from an Irish proverb, ‘Ar scáth a Chéile mhaireann na daoine. This reminds me of the hospitality and welcome my grandmother offered to any worker or traveller on the country roads near her home, a small Irish ceili house, where cattle deals were made, stories of old were regaled and everyone was welcomed, irrespective of religious background. The community always supported one another.

Inspired by this confidence, I will cast my vote for the political party I believe will stand up against hatred, discrimination, harassment and prejudice and work towards principles of solidarity and the common good, key pillars of Catholic social teaching.