The greatest gift any society can enjoy is a shared sense of purpose. In a polarised post-Covid world, we need a binding idea to connect us. For millennia, a belief in a god provided social glue. Whether one believes in an afterlife or not, the gradual and ongoing removal of faith means huge swathes of society cannot now answer the questions of why we are here and what we are for. This Why-shaped hole has massive consequences, replacing any sense of universal purpose with exclusive truths, subjective falsehoods – or nothing at all. In the UK, the closest we have to a faith is the NHS, but few of us trust doctors in the way our grandparents did. Deference to our ‚’elders and betters‚’ is now hard-won or absent. Trust in banks is as low as confidence in politicians. Youthful influencers unburdened by qualifications, experience or expertise are preferred guides for many, supplanting experts. The phrase ‚’evidence-based‚’ is subject to a bewildering belief in alternative facts. Arguably such polarised disunity represents the greatest threat to liberal democracy in the UK. Without a shared purpose, we have no reason to pursue divinely-appointed adventures like colonial expansion, fix society along god-given hierarchical lines, or align behind (more progressive) common values. Without wars to fight, we have no shared enemy. Instead of a clear narrative, we have noise amidst chaos. Science has supplanted the stories we used to tell, but in removing the omnnipresent judge, failed to provide a replacement. But if we were to seek the alternative, uniting behind a life-affirming credo, what would it be? What can we all believe in, across faiths, classes and politics? The answer is a Kindness project, a radical new focal point for the nation ‚’ influencing and guiding every government department, social group and individual.
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