As I write, it’s the day of the European Elections in the UK. Over the past few months, there has been a political storm gaining strength through whipping up the fears and concerns of the voting public, resulting in strong feelings, harsh words and a sense of creeping disquiet throughout the country as the nature of belonging and who should live here is argued about.
Yet despite all the debate and mud-slinging, a large majority of voters will fail to turn up to the polling stations today (around two thirds, if the last two years’ European Elections are anything to go by).
This isn’t a political blog though, so why am I writing about elections?
Because I see a striking similarity between people who don’t vote and then complain about the government and people who want something in their life but don’t do anything about it. The sort of people who claim they never win anything, without ever having bought a raffle ticket.
There’s an Arabian proverb about a man who has had a successful day at the market and stops at the temple to give thanks to God. Leaving his camel outside, he goes into the temple and prays for several hours, thanking Allah and promising that he will help the poor and his community in the future. When he comes out, he finds that his camel is gone. He is angry and shouts at the sky, “Allah! How could you do this to me? I put all my trust in you and this is how you repay me!”
A passing wise man hears the rantings of the angry man and calls out to him. “Trust in Allah, my child,” he chuckles, “but tie up your camel.”
It’s not enough to put your faith in others – be they God, other people, governments or institutions – without some action on your part too. It’s not enough just to talk about what you want to change without doing something, however small, to make that change happen. Similarly, action without a bigger picture can feel futile and frustrating – like walking in circles rather than heading for a destination.
Trusting in Allah but tying up your camel is the perfect balance of big picture and details focus. It means casting your vote in an election, however imperfect the choice is; it means having a vision and doing something about it; it means taking care of your own business and letting God or whatever higher power you have faith in take care of theirs; it means buying a ticket in the lottery of life. It means participating.
Where in your life are you focusing so much on the big picture that you neglect the details? Where are you concentrating so much on tying up your camel that you forget to even go into the temple? How could you participate more in making your dreams come true?
Want to talk this through? Need some help with how to step up and take part? Get in touch today.