• Disillusioned? Some perspective please!

    Posted by John

    14 August, 2013

    Are you feeling disillusioned at the current state of the political landscape as we approach the election?

    If you are, the anecdotal evidence is pretty compelling that you’re not alone. I could count more than 20 conversations I’ve had with people over the last week who are feeling less than inspired at the prospect of casting their vote in a few weeks time.

    The same feeling was represented in a recent article that did the social network rounds from a young journalist named Kate Midena. In it Kate outlines her perspectives on various Party positions, then finishes with these words:

    ‘What do I do? Who do I vote for? There seems no real point of difference between our major parties, and it leaves me at a loss. I don't want to cast an informal vote, and I want to play a part in our nation's future. But at what cost? If I lean one way, I'll be damaging people who come to this country to seek refuge; if I lean the other, I'll be putting thousands of kids in public schools and the welfare of poor Australia at risk.I know that the election is not just up to me, but surely I'm not the only one feeling the weight of this?’

    I guess it depends on your perspective, but certainly in some of the circles in which I move, there seems to be a sound rationale developing for anyone that wants to let the waves of disillusionment flow over them.

    On the issue of foreign aid for example, a strong bipartisan commitment to deliver a growing and effective aid program seems to be wavering. Further cuts by the ALP-led government two weeks ago were met with a chorus of silence from the Coalition. The steely commitment to fighting poverty in all its forms that we are looking for from our leaders (and something that I dare say might inject some inspiration into the hearts of voters) is sadly absent from the debates. Couple that with issues related to corruption, the treatment of those seeking asylum and the environment, and you have something straight out of the disillusionment recipe book.

    So, while disillusionment might be validated, we’re still left with Kate’s question above....‘What do I do?’

    In response, I humbly offer one piece of advice - Keep things in perspective!

    The reality is that there is never an ideal leader or an ideal candidate, and that’s certainly the case when we look at it from the perspective of our Christian faith. It’s important to remember that while we may feel it is worse this time around, in reality our vote always involves a level of compromise.

    If you feel like there is no point of distinction between the Parties or leaders on which you can base your vote, take a look at your local candidates. Try to get a sense of who they are. Are they committed to compassion and justice? Do they evidence some level of servant leadership? What is their perspective on the poor and marginalised in society? What things are they personally passionate about?

    If you’re still struggling, take a longer view. Voting is an amazing privilege. Many in our world fight for the right to do so. But while it is an important expression of your voice, it is (at least it should be) only one expression of that voice. If recent politics has taught us anything, it is that things change. Make the most of your vote, but realise that once the election has come and gone, there are plenty of opportunities to continue to raise our voices and be part of bringing change.

    If we get some perspective, we can think clearly about how we respond today. If we get some perspective, we realise that disillusionment most often leads to disengagement. Disengagement leads to silence.

    That’s the reason we’ve focused Micah Challenge’s pre-election campaign on educating all candidates about the effectiveness of Australian aid. We wholeheartedly believe that what we do now can impact what happens in the coming months and years. Every candidate, every backbencher, has the potential to significantly shape policies in their Party into the future.

    So, when you feel yourself starting to slide down the slippery slope toward apathy, choose action over disillusionment. Choose hope over cynicism.

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    John Beckett is Micah Challenge Australia's National Coordinator

    Find out here how you can take action by contacting your candidates before the election.