Votes cast ballots’ box
Beyond flash & ticker tape
hunger & oppression continue
Regardless of agenda
May we be Care

(A Pres-bit|@wpgpres)

Ready? This week’s blog is about politics, but not about politics …

Funny how you can use the same word twice and mean two totally different things. Nuances of language are indeed rich and often lead to tension and disagreement. So let me take a breath and start this musing …

Regardless of your political persuasion or affiliation, I think any Canadian would be hard pressed to say that this last week has been anything but electric. Majority governments elected in two provinces and – in Alberta – a generational dynasty has come to an end. Imagine, a politically elected democratic party that has been in power to such an extent that three generations have never seen another government! Wow!

Elections Canada

Elections Canada
Image: Dennis S Hurd

Political bodies and organised institutions are one way that we have chosen to organise ourselves. In our Canadian context, we have embraced organising ourselves within a Parliamentary democracy and – in general – this has historically afforded a great deal of stability for a majority of people. This firm ground for many, however, often means that others have suffered: another musing for another time …

Political communities – whether of faith or secular in nature – are often relational and reflect core beliefs or ideologies, philosophies or precepts. How we live within these communities often mirrors how we engage in the larger world and (often) within those large political institutions. As individuals, we gather collectively and within this pluralism and diversity certain values percolate to the top: what I am struck by – therefore – is ‘what happens when those values do not necessarily reflect what might be central to you, me or the communities within which we find our meaning’?

Now I know that what the media reflects as newsworthy occurs in a sort of ‘chicken-and-egg’ paradox. Does what we hear reflect what we believe or is what we believe informed by the messages we hear? A great question … and maybe a seed for future musings. What I have heard – however – this last week, is the centrality of the economy, the reality of stability grounded in resource maintenance and management. In general, fiscal concerns seem to have been the dominant story that the media has suggested has been discussed by our political institutions.

Now I am not going to try to sell you an ideology or endeavour to convince you that this party is better than that one. Though I would be dishonest to say I do not have my own political lenses – in respect to institutional politics – I do not think that is the central place from which I operate. My faith informs my politics and I think that is fair to say of all of us. Regardless of secular or faith-based identity, what we believe determines what we do and to what we gravitate … and this week I am not sure I explicitly saw my beliefs reflected well in any of the political narratives that have flooded the proverbial airwaves …

Adam Smith

Adam Smith
Image: James Tassie (1787)

What I have longed to hear – and still have not – is a shift from preferencing matters of the economy to that of people or citizens (in the language of politics) and the environment (Creation in the language of faith). Now I know that the two are intimately connected. Even for Adam Smith – in respect to his nurturing of Laissez-faire economics – it seems clear to me that his faith was bound to the idea of capitalism. His faith led him to develop an economic system and structure, which was intended to bring wealth to everyone. With all of the provisos of privilege and class that were and are Adam Smith and capitalism, I still wonder whether he would recognise the consumer economics that have come to influence our political institutions and the manner in which we create the story we call Canada.

This is the crux: it seems to me that most of the recent political discussion has been about matters of wealth and economics. And though people – you and me – are implicit in that discussion, it seems that the dialogue has lent the economy its own value to such a degree that we have been removed. In fact, it seems that people have become simply a factor in ensuring that our consumer economy is supported by the body politic.

As a person who endeavours to follow a ministry modelled by Jesus and whose discipleship embraces Christ in you and me, I am wrestling. I have questions, which arise from the frustration some have felt and the euphoria others have experienced in this last week. I do not think I am judging those emotional responses to these political events as much I am wondering how to discern where it is that the Spirit might be present.

As I wrestle and muse, I know that history reveals repeatedly that the moment we – as individuals and collectives – become components or widgets, bad things happen. When we choose to elect those percolating values that dehumanise, history looks to us with worry. The story I heard being told this last week is not about our quality of life – and how that is connected to many factors and not just the number to the left of the decimal point – but about the quantity of stuff. And that tension feels like it needs further pause for reflection …