FEATURES
Volume 12 Number 6
A Cool and Moral Campaign
01 December 1999

As reported in FAC (Feb/Mar 1999), the Clean Slate Campaign invites people to promise to take at least one practical step during 1999 towards cleaning their slate.


'The Clean Slate Campaign is a very good idea--personally I am not waiting for the year 2000—cleaning my own slate is a daily ongoing matter which I take seriously and try to carry out the cleaning with the help of the Lord "maker of heaven and earth".'

Thus writes celebrated flautist James Galway to the organizers of the Clean Slate Campaign, a British initiative to give added meaning to the Millennium.

As reported in FAC (Feb/Mar 1999), the Clean Slate Campaign invites people to promise to take at least one practical step during 1999 towards cleaning their slate.

The basic concept of the campaign, together with a list of patrons and some examples of 'slate cleaning' appear in a Clean Slate Guide which has been widely distributed. There is also a newsletter and a website (www.cleanslate.org).

The 80 patrons of the campaign cover many walks of life. Among their number are senior religious figures (Chief Rabbi Dr Jonathan Sacks; the late Cardinal Basil Hume, Archbishop of Westminster; and Iqbal Sacranie, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain), sporting personalities (Sir Bobby Charlton, Gavin Hastings and Lord Cowdrey of Tonbridge), academics, journalists, people in industry and housewives.

One patron, Baroness Shreela Flather, wrote, 'I have been hurt by the gender discrimination I often experience within my own Asian community. I have decided to clean my slate of this hurt, and not allow it to make me angry or have a negative effect on the way I treat others.'

Sir Cliff Richard commented, 'A new Millennium, a new start, a clean slate. It makes sense!' And a student added that the idea was 'cool and moral'.

The campaign is not orchestrated from headquarters. Its originator, Edward Peters, says that it is a free idea for people to take up as they will. So initiatives are bubbling up in many parts of the country and in several facets of national life.

Schools are showing interest in the campaign as a useful resource for classrooms. A short study guide for use in primary schools has been prepared by teachers. One of the patrons, the Director of Education for Newcastle, wrote about the campaign to all the schools in his education authority and also to all the chief education officers in England. This led to a dozen CEOs requesting copies of the Guide for distribution to schools in their area. Nearly half of Scotland's 30 education authorities have also requested material on the campaign.

More recently, David Blunkett, Britain's education minister, has commended the Clean Slate initiative. He has put the government's Schools Division in touch with the campaign to see how to make it known more widely in schools.

The Annual General Meeting of the National Association of Standing Advisory Councils on Religious Education adopted a special resolution to recommend the Clean Slate Guide to all SACRES throughout the UK.

In the campaign's birthplace, Oxford, the Lord Mayor, Val Smith, launched the idea of a Clean Slate Week in the town hall. She had the backing of the city council and local MPs. The hope was that the week, due to begin on 29 November, would unite many communities to do something positive for the city.

The clean slate theme is being used in many churches. And all delegates to the Church of Scotland General Assembly in Edinburgh in May received a copy of the Guide.

On 11 September the Chairman of the Liverpool District of the Methodist Church, John Taylor, arranged for a local acitivist to speak to Synod about the campaign. Dr Taylor told the 200 delegates that it was 'a simple idea that anyone can use'.

A press release from the Board of Deputies of British Jews explained that the aim was 'to encourage people of all faiths, or none, to take some individual action or decision which will put right a past wrong'.

There has been considerable media interest, with interviews on local and national radio programmes as well as coverage in several papers. Jennifer Cunningham wrote in the Scottish daily, The Herald: 'The Millennium has been a focus for grand projects, but there's still space among the new museums and public works for a bit of individual action'. The paper offered a bottle of champagne to readers who sent in the best stories of how they had cleaned their slates. But a cartoon by Noel Ford in The Church Times showed one prisoner telling another: 'My mistake was having all my Clean Slate pledges published in the local paper.'

As we go to press, there are still two months until the new Millennium. Further events are planned, including a national occasion gathering many of the campaign patrons at the same moment in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast. 1999 may be rapidly running its course but as the Clean Slate Campaign publicity says, 'It's never too late to clean your slate.'

Some responses:
* Recently I lost my temper with a woman in a council department. The next day I took a box of chocolates to her office!
* I can make myself miserable by being envious of those who, unlike myself, have grown up in a happy family. A mood can attack me and put me out of action for hours. After this happened recently I decided to do something about it... so I wiped the hateful word 'envy' off my slate and in its place I put 'contentment'.
* I have decided that I am not going to feel guilty any more about my actions and behaviour from the ages of 19-27. These years included my college years when I behaved promiscuously and hurt my friends very badly. I thought only about myself and lost contact with God. I am putting the guilt of those youthful years behind me in the knowledge that if God can forgive all I've done then I can wipe my slate clean.
* I expect soon to meet up with local councillors regarding the litter campaign in Wrexham, which arose out of my promise—to do something instead of moaning.
Kenneth Noble


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