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The UK’s national and local elections in May this year produced two new Buddhist politicians, both Triratna mitras: a Conservative member of parliament at Westminster and Oscar Gillespie, a local councillor for the Green Party in Cambridge. (We hope to bring you a piece from the new MP later this year.)
Oscar writes: “I have been an environmentalist and a vegetarian longer than I have been a Buddhist. I came to the Cambridge Buddhist Centre four years ago, and gained the conviction to go vegan soon after that. The willingness of humankind to directly or indirectly destroy other beings, and then rationalise it, has been the hardest thing for me to come to terms with in my 37 years in this body. I do hope that there will be more general awareness in the future of how much our habits shape the world. (This cartoon illustrates why animal agriculture is the No.1 driver of climate change.)
When I came to the Buddhist Centre, at first I was only interested in tai chi, but I soon sought out more and more of the treasures available there. It has been a journey of freedom; above all, freedom from the tyranny of fears and stuck ideas. I’ve gained confidence to take risks with my career and my relationships, paying more attention to my ethical convictions.
Last year I agreed to become a local candidate for the Cambridge Green Party since I squarely agree with their approach and their priorities, and after coming second in the 2014 elections, I was elected this year as the city councillor for Market Ward, in the city centre.
The power of a lone councillor is somewhat slight, but I will be able to influence decisions to some extent, and will push for more renewable energy, social housing, biodiversity, community spaces, and much less food waste in the city of Cambridge.
I will need to deepen my metta practice and my non-violent communication to handle local politics the way I want to, but also be grateful and glad for who I am already.”