I must admit that I am not fond of the prospects for this country. In the ways and understanding of the world, I used to “care” a great deal about politics and the those who governed the nation. As I have aged and weathered the seasons of life, and I have seen my children reach adulthood, I have seen our family accomplish a great deal in spite of the government and especially in spite of the politicians who think they know better than average citizens what is good for the rest of us. The Liberal party in particular has historically had a cavalier attitude of privilege as if it was their right to rule the nation. Several Conservative governments were a reaction to that very mindset, and they too became arrogant in the late 1980s and in the early 90’s ended up with two MPs in the House! That is the problem. People react instead of respond to issues in life, and not the least in the realm of politics.
As a man, a Christian one at that, I believe I am to respond, and not react to situations in life. How do I respond, when I have totally changed my views on the role of the Christian in a secular society. After all, as Larry Norman echoed in his classic song, “I only visiting this planet.” If I am a visitor, and if I am as the New Testament declares a “citizen of another country” (Hebrews 11), then how do I engage and participate in the affairs of state and society? Do I do what many would consider “nothing” by not voting? Does my voting make me a better citizen? By whose standard?
Why is it that here in Canada, the electorate get brow beaten by politicians and citizens alike with the line “You should vote, this is why our soldiers died for in World War II!” Oh, really? Have you spoken to any vets about that? I have. Far and away the only reasons that they went to war in the years of their youth were a combination of youthful enthusiasm (they did not want to miss the excitement of the war and their part in it), combined with a sense of defending home and family. When it came down to it, and they had bonded with other men in their units, they lived and died for each other. They had become a “band of brothers.” I know, that connection, when you spend your day and night and under extreme conditions, with a band of men, and you only have each other, you become family to one another. I know, I was one. For eight years I was a soldier, albeit a part timer, a reservist in the Canadian military. To this day these men are closer than family to me. So spare me, that I should vote because of what the vets did for us in World War II. That is no reason to vote. It is political manipulation of it most heinous kind.
The question still begs to be asked. Why should a Christian male in this country vote? I can think of a lot of reasons not to. For one, we do not live in a democracy, but rather in a political benevolent dictatorship. We elect a party based on its promises, although the oxymoron of this whole enterprise is when we have leaders debates, and all of a sudden the debates, the polls and the media speak of the leader rather than the party and the platform. We proclaim a parliamentary system, and then run the election like an American election for president! How asinine is that?? If I vote, I do not get the opportunity to vote for the leader of the party that will become Prime Minister. Only the people who live in his or her riding get that opportunity. The best I can do is vote for the man or woman that best identifies the issues that are pressing in our region where we live, and who hold the closest convictions that matter to us and our beliefs. But, we don’t run the election that way. It is a pathetic system, this one past the post system. It makes no sense that we are not evolving and developing the political system and electoral processes in this country. It makes it all the more frustrating for citizens who care about their nation.
Currently we elect a party to power, and they get free reign until the next election. Pretty scary if there is no effective opposition to hold them accountable. This is why historically the minority governments have fared well and accomplished much for the nation. This is why again, perhaps it is time for electoral reform, and it must come from the people. The historical parties have everything to lose to embrace electoral reform, because it will coral their power and will control how they behave and how they govern. Look at the Liberals and the Conservatives, and even Harper and the Conservatives this time around. He called the election because he believed that he could gain a majority and then he would not have to be accountable to Parliament and worry about the Official Opposition. He could bully through his agenda. He only released his platform yesterday, a mere six days before the election!!! How on earth are any of us supposed to debate and challenge their platform six days before the election? Perhaps this will be his undoing.
Harper and all the media wizkids around him are trying to portray him as a family man and as a compassionate and caring man. He is anything but that. He is plastic and phony and comes across as less than compassionate and understanding. He claims to be a Christian. That was the premise for me, on which I voted the last time. I had not voted since 1988 and thought that with the issue of gay marriage, I wanted to elect someone who would revisit that catastrophic faux pas by the Paul Ma
rtin led Liberals. When elected, Harper shamelessly did little to nothing to remedy the situation, deciding instead to hide behind the Supreme Court decision. Now our laws are formed by the Judiciary which is unelected and appointed by the Prime Ministry and the Privy Council. So much for democracy and the will of the people! Another reason why there is a “democratic deficit” in Canada.
The polls show that now it looks more and more like another Conservative minority. That would be good. That would bring about the need for more cooperation and no more bullying through an agenda. But where does this leave me as a Canadian male voter who is 50 years young?
I am reconciled that I am to pray for my leaders, and I am to obey the laws of the land and be a good citizen (see Romans 13). Nowhere do we find a place in the New Testament about political engagement and participation for believers. If I am going to be biblical and I believe in the sovereignty of God, does my vote really matter? God will elect who He wants to rule over us, even the ones that are evil, are placed in a place of authority for a reason and for a season. God’s ultimate purposes will be fulfilled, for He even uses tyrants to accomplish His will and purposes in the earth. So, my vote really means nothing. And besides, even if I vote, the outcome is God’s contrary to what our politicians tell us.
I am resigned to look and to observe and to pray for my nation and those who govern. This I have done and will continue to do. This year, though I dicided that I would engage more with my society, the place where I work and live and rub shoulders with people. I thought I would volunteer and have been active since the new year in the local literacy group, and it is here that I am finding Jesus among the people who care for other people. This is radical in your face political activism without party partizanship.
Voluteering has huge political implications, because people become engage with the grassroots of problems and issues, such as literacy, poverty, socio-economic justice, pacifism, crime, drug addiction and such things. This is where I can make a tangible and very real difference of my life touching another life, that in turn touches another life. My voting does none of that. In fact, it makes me look like I have abstained from real engagement with society and culture. I believe that if Christians actually got out of their “Christian ghettos”, and outside the four walls of their lofty houses of worship, and rubbed shoulders with the people, and voluteered, without the agenda of converting people (that is God’s job not ours) and just loved and cared compassionately, then the Kingdom of God would manifest where we live. Now that is the kind of “politics” I can engage in!!! How about you?
On election day, won’t you open yourself up to the possibilities? What your life and your experience, filled with the love of God could do to make the world a little better for someone else?