Thursday, March 19, 2009

Blair does God

When Tony Blair was in office, journalists found pinning him down on the question of personal faith was like trying to nail jelly to a wall. His spin doctor, Alistair Campbell uttered his most quotable quote when pressed on this subject, saying, "We don't do God."

Today the Telegraph runs an article reporting what appears to be a volte face from Blair on this subject. I wonder if he felt that 'doing God' while in office would be political suicide. Perhaps Obama's success - as someone who adheres unequivocally to a faith - has given him the courage to speak up.

Certainly for those of us who have a faith, it is not a cosmetic add on that we can check in at the door of any debate. It is as fundamental to who we are as our gender, even if - unlike our gender - it was a late addition.

People who profess no faith simply don't get it. I think the term 'religious' is no help here. Being religious simply refers to an outward practise from which you can desist. Having a faith is a completely different matter. Speaking as a Christian, my relationship with God is as real to me as my relationship with my husband, if not more so. I talk to Him... and He talks back. Being asked to disregard my faith would be on a par with being asked to cheat on my husband.

You may choose to believe that I am deluded - that is your inalienable right. I am not going to use this space as the place to have that debate. The point I am trying to make here - with myself as the example - is that faith is a core issue. It is much more than religious practice.

Tony Blair appears to have come to the view that without an understanding of the role of faith in people's lives, it is impossible to lead them effectively.

I would suggest that those of us in L&D are faced with a similar challenge. If we wish to engage people, riding roughshod over their core beliefs or requiring them to check them in at the door is not the way to achieve it. Neither is waving a dismissive hand and declaring that "they're all the same thing."

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