I’m thinking especially of my US friends today as they await the results of the today’s presidential elections. As of last month (according to this blog’s stats), readers from the US make up more than half the total number of readers of this blog each day.
I don’t understand the US electoral system too well. But certainly voters both in the US and in NZ have the same joys hopes, griefs and anxieties. When it comes to marking a ballot form on polling day most people in each of our nations are motivated by the same selfish drive: which party or leader is most likely to give me what I want.
And herein lies the great flaw in democracy. Democracy is designed to give people what they deserve rather than what they need. We don’t like to recall that Hitler was elected by democratic vote.
It is rare to have the opportunity to vote for a politician who stands on the platform of what is objectively good, true and just. These days, to accuse someone of being ‘a politician’ or ‘political’ is synonymous with suggesting that they will do no more than give the people what the people want. If people call the blue bus red, then the politician will proclaim that the bus is indeed red.
So if we can’t hope in politics, where can we place our hope? Is there a method that can lead us on a hope-full path?
Yes! Those Americans who might have gone to Mass before casting their vote would have heard the revolutionary Philippian’s hymn (2:5-11). Paul’s words to the people of Philippi offered the path of Christ (who took on the form of a slave and humbled himself even to death), as the pathway to the fulness of life for all citizens.
So whatever party wins a political election, and whichever leader takes the reins, little really changes. Even after election day the ‘winners’ will do little more than keep the majority happy.
This places the orb of true authority and the sceptre of real power back in our court.
Real change is never instigated by politicians.
The true leaders are the individuals who by their daily words and actions vote for the weak and vulnerable.
We are the leaders when we realise that a kind word to a difficult stranger in a supermarket has the power to transform the way s/he treats her family later that day. We wield greatest power when we love our neighbour and forgive our enemy.
I become a powerful leader when I loving protect every human life, from the moment of conception to natural death.
When NZ’ers think of the people of the US we don’t think of your politicians or policies. We remember your people who were visiting Christchurch during our earthquakes and who were kind and generous. Our parents and grandparents remember the friendliness of your troops visiting NZ in 1945. And I am grateful for the friendly and encouraging US tourists who were at Mass in Hanmer Springs last weekend.
So, to all friends of this blog in the US, our prayers are with you.