Level of Hypocrisy
Level of HypocrisyI understand that some institutions are slow to change; of course I understand having worked for both the NHS and the Prison Service. Change does come but it can take such a long time and needs people who have the courage of their ideas to continue to push over the long term. Many avenues of change or doors may be shut along the way, but bit by bit change does come, even with the most reluctant of opposition fighting back. I suppose history is testament that change is needed and inevitable in most cases, not always for the better, but all things evolve, change over time. In the private sector things are a little quicker for sure, they often have the ability to weigh up pros and cons, risk verses reward with speed when needed. It is in the private company’s interest to change and capitalise on market trends, new innovations and opportunities that can come from nowhere.
But change can also be so hard fought for that lives are lost, given freely so that progress for the many can be gained. Just look at the Suffragette movement that started in earnest in the late 19th century. It clawed and fought to gain one step at a time, one piece of change so very hard won. Let me illustrate my point with some key aspects of change in our society that women fought for, changes that took over 120 years to gain:
- 1882 Women’s Married Property Act;
- 1928 the Suffragette movement led to the Representation of the People Act gave all women over the age of 21 the right to vote;
- 1958 The Life Peerages Act;
- 1965 Barbara Castle is appointed Minister of Transport, becoming the first female minister of state;
- 1968 Women at the Ford car factory in Dagenham strike over equal pay, almost stopping production at all Ford UK plants. Their protest led directly to the passing of the Equal Pay Act;
- 1975 The Sex Discrimination Act makes it illegal to discriminate against women in work, education and training;
- 1979 Margaret Thatcher becomes Britain’s first female prime minister;
- 1981 Baroness Young becomes the first woman leader of the House of Lords;
- 1983 Lady Mary Donaldson becomes the first woman Lord Mayor of London;
- 1985 The Equal Pay (Amendment) Act allows women to be paid the same as men for work of equal value;
- 1987 Diane Abbot becomes the first black woman member of the Westminster Parliament;
- 1994 Rape in marriage is made a crime after 15 years of serious campaigning by women’s organisations;
- 2003 The Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations are introduced to protect people against discrimination based on their sexual orientation;
- 2005 The first civil registrations of same-sex couples takes place as a result of the long campaigned for Civil Partnerships Act;
- 2000 Human Rights Act was incorporated into legislation;
- 2010 Equality Act was made law;
We even have women in our history that have caused momentous change for our nation, Boudicca, Elizabeth the 1st, Queen Victoria, Margaret Thatcher to name but a few, even our own Queen Elizabeth the 2nd has steered and overseen our nation for 60 years of change. The change our Queen has overseen has been accelerating beyond anyone’s imagination, with technology based change driving forwarded ever faster. Year after year technology strides forward changing commerce, politics being changed by a instance demand for news and sound bites through a multimedia/social-media craving for information, instant gratification gone mad. All aspects of our society has had to change rapidly, all but one that is.
It seems religion or religious organisations and structures are trying to be impervious to any change, with the ability to ignore the opinion of the public, the political elite, and in some cases even their own worshipers. The walls of many churches are thick in deed and skilled at the ability to hear no change, see no change nor speak no change. I don’t think change is needed for the sake of it but I do believe that the religious community is the most resistant of any organisation to change in order to keep pace with society. Perhaps this is why pews are becoming empty and average age of people regularly going to church is well above retirement age in most disseise. Now this is where I do not want people to think that I am against religion as I am not and hold my faith closely to my heart. I also acknowledge the vast amount of good work that religions do on every continent of this world of ours, thousands of lives saved every year, millions finding direction and comfort from their faith. I truly believe that although religions have been used by evil people to justify unspeakable atrocities, at the core of faith is always love, tolerance and the need to do good and not bad. However, when comes to pace of change a disabled snail could out run most religions.
This is where I think the Politian’s have much to answer for as they are condoning lack of change in religions in this country, in fact they are to blame for the lack of change without question. To prove this I want to draw your attention to an item on the Daily Politics show today on BBC 2. There was vigorous debate about forcing company boards to be made up of at least 40% women as Executive and Non-Executive Directors, with even the possibility of legislation being brought in. I think this has potential problems but with all changed based legislation there will be difficulties to start with. However, it will change things for the better and is worth the initial aggravation and inevitable opposition from the ‘Old Boys Network’. But this is a needed step for women, as was all the steps forward I listed above. It’s a shame we have a society where such laws are needed to enshrine women’s equal status to men, since when were women not equal! But we do live in a world of discrimination and such laws are needed.
What grates my parmesan is that the Government with one hand make such a big issue of women not being represented in enough numbers on company Boards of Directors, but at the same time do nothing to ensure Equality legislation applies to religions. Compared to the full throated sound bites in favour of fair representation from the Government, you hear but a slight whisper from the same people when religions refuse to have women Bishops, Gay Bishops, and the list could go on for another page or more. I do not understand why Equality is enforced ruthlessly by the courts of our land except when it comes to religion – why, isn’t this discriminatory in itself. If I as a company owner rejected a woman for promotion because she was a woman or was gay, I would be rightly taken to the cleaners, but yet the church can just ignore such essential legislation or our society. I am not comfortable with religion being above the law; it just isn’t right, so yes I blame the Politicians for allowing discrimination to flourish unabated.
I understand change is difficult, painful and so very hard at times but change will come whether people resist it or not. Some politically influential upper class men in the 1920’s thought women having the vote was the road to anarchy and would lead to society fragmenting. Well surprise, surprise we are all still here, and we will be when religions finally move with society. Regions may even see it is a change for the better and the world will not end, churches my even see an increase in attendance numbers and a new level of empathy achieved – just may be.
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