I heard this African proverb once and it has never left me.
In the culture of our day, speed seems to be everything. Being a new Londoner (sorry Birmingham) this is even more apparent. We rush out of the house in the morning and we rush back home in the evening. We run through train stations, tube stations and busy streets. We dash out for something to eat and rush back to work. Even more seriously, we rush through phases of life, always looking forward to the next thing and sometimes forgetting to fully embrace the present.
This way of living is very fast, but it leaves no room for the quality relationships that enrich life and we inevitably end up going alone.
One thing that I am sure of, is that in the world of politics nothing goes that ‘fast’!
It is through the slow work of building relationships that progress is made. It is through conversations, meetings, sharing cups of tea, phone calls, emails and letters that ever so slowly things get moving. It is a powerful thing when men and women gather around an issue and fight to do something about it. I have seen this first hand working for the APPG as I have monitored the speeches, debates and questions of MPs and Peers over this year who have spoken out consistently about freedom of religion or belief around the world. I have been amazed at how well many MPs respond to the letters of their constituents and the phone calls of concerned members of the public. It is through consistency in raising these issues that the work will continue and develop; these problems did not develop quickly so a quick fix will never work.
Many of us may never have the responsibility of making decisions in Parliament like MPs and Peers do, but we definitely have the responsibility to contribute to the good of our local communities. Each of us is on our own journey but we do not journey alone; we definitely need to go far by going together. Through our relationships as parents, friends, colleagues or neighbours we can help others go far by standing with them and walking along with them on their journey.
I definitely would not have benefitted as much as I have this year in the House of Lords if it wasn’t for those who walked alongside me, encouraged me and inspired me. As I move on with the next chapter of my journey I will definitely be taking their words with me and they will indeed help me to go far!