The most common response we get in Voters Network or FairGO when asking people what they think about the way governments are acting or how society is being shaped is surprising. Essentially it is “I am interested in the topic, but not interested enough to do anything about it that would require my time, effort or money”.
Fair enough! Given that we live in a democracy of ‘Representative government” it is reasonable to conclude that the representatives we elect to parliament or congress, will also be interested in the same topics, but will not be interested enough to do anything about them either. ” They are representative of us and are there to represent us in accordance with our expressed wishes.
If we don’t care, they won’t care! It took me about 30 years to realise that, long after I had invented Votergrams and formed FairGO.
So now look at what Jesus said to his disciples. “Take up your cross and follow me.” He also said ” I have come so that you may live life to the full.” so he was not suggesting that we give up all Earthly activities and pleasure. He was just telling us that if we want to live life to the full we will need to make some sacrifices while we are here on Earth and contribute to making life worthwhile for others as well as ourselves. “Kindness is what God wants, not animal sacrifices”, he said. By linking them together we can understand that dishing out kindness would involve some sacrifices.
He lived under Roman occupation. We live in a representative democracy. The disciples and apostles were Christ’s representatives to spread his philosophy and words. He did not just appoint them and leave them to it. He trained them on the job as he spoke to the people of his time. When they did not understand, they asked and he explained. He provided them all with direction. So too it is up to Christians today to give their representatives directions in accordance with Christ’s teachings.
We should not be so conceited as to imagine that the people who represent us will be totally honest, competent in everything, always telling the truth and always doing the right thing. Jesus said “let the one who is without sin cast the first stone”. We all have our failings from time to time. Let us not fantasize that our politicians will be perfect. They are just like us. No better and no worse.
Numbers are the key in democracy. Numbers of soldiers were the key in Roman Occupation too. Decisions in parliaments, assemblies and congresses are made by majority opinion. It is not always by vote, but the majority rules in parliament, cabinet and the party room. So when we want to influence government we must make our views and reasons known to every Member of Parliament. As in the parable of the sower, some will ignore or forget our views, but some will help us achieve our goal. If a Christian can get 10 Christian voters to support them, they will carry much more than 10 times the power and influence. If a thousand, they almost cannot lose. But we must have a good number of reasons and it will be better if all those people some from most of the electorates. Jesus explains the benefit of planning a campaign before embarking on it.
But what he mostly tells us about our form of representative government is that if we do nothing, we will gain nothing. We must pick up that cross of having to direct our elected representatives to do what we all want. That in itself means that we must confer and be tolerant of other viewpoints to present a joint front.
It is not a heavy cross at all. When Jesus carried his own cross it was so heavy that he crumbled under the weight and a supporter was called in. But if just 10 people had carried that cross it would have been much lighter for each of them. So with campaigning for a fair and just society, it becomes a very light load when borne by 100, 1,000 or 100,000 Christians or other voters and our influence is enhanced exponentially.
FairGO sets the pattern of kindness.
Votergrams provide the parable of the sower multiplier technology.
Voters Network provides the load-lightening leverage of many people working for the common goal.
Jesus also extolled us to treat others as we would like to be treated. Our politicians have a thankless task and the media pours scorn on them every day for every false move. So at FairGO and in Voters Network we try very hard to treat our elected representatives very nicely, to praise them frequently in public for the many good things they do and to criticise them in the relative privacy of parliament when they get it wrong.
In preaching and teaching about God and a spiritual life, Jesus also gave us clues as to how we might enjoy life on Earth. Democracy is so different to the Roman occupation, to dictatorships and to monarchy in all of which the decisions are made for us and we play no decision-making role at all, that most people fail to comprehend how it works.
Our politicians are mostly not “leaders” any more than Pontius Pilate was a leader. They are followers of the voter-crowd just as Pilate followed the Jewish crowd who wanted blood. It could not be any other way, because in the end the voters determine the careers and pay packets of the politicians.
When we care for one another and work together with our MPs we will enjoy the most satisfying lives, shaped by ourselves through them.
You might like to join Voters Network and do your small bit along with others. The you will be able to say on that last day, “I have truly loved my neighbours as myself.”