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I ran into our local Member of Parliament in the supermarket yesterday, and collared him about the release of the Welfare Working Group report which his party is pushing (some good independent coverage of this disaster-waiting-to-happen can be found here).
As I discussed the viler points of the report and it's social and economic shortcomings it became clear that he had no idea what the report actually said, so, after having me elucidate my own opinions on welfare reform in general he asked me if I would come and speak at the National Party meeting that night; telling me that;
"Our country (by which he meant his party) needs passionate and intelligent young people like you who are prepared to stick their necks out for the sake of making a difference".
There was just one catch;
"But if you want anyone to take you seriously or even listen to what you have to say, it'd be a good idea to do something about those whiskers".
As I explained to him that I actually preferred people to write me off as worthless on sight, and that I felt I could do more to break down ignorance and bigotry by totally defying peoples preconceived ideas rather than exploiting them to my own advantage his eyes glazed over with a smug look that seemed to say "ah, so you are an addle-headed druggie after all, and totally worthless for furthering my own ambitions".
I must admit, that for expediency's sake I did give some passing thought to his recommendation (not the first time I've had this discussion), as both the political platform and the pulpit are perhaps worth paying that price of admittance, but I was brought back to my senses by dear old Thomas;
For a man's worthiness is not to be estimated by the number of visions and consolations which he may have, or by his knowledge of the Scriptures, or by his being placed in a more elevated station.
But [the proof is] if he be grounded in true humility, and full of divine charity; if he be always purely and sincerely seeking God's honor; if he think nothing of and sincerely despise himself, and even rejoice to be despised and put low by others, than to be honored by them.
And to think; I Almost Cut My Hair.- à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, Book III, Chapter VII