• Looking Forward With Hope

    Posted by John

    21 May, 2012

    This week's 'Looking Forward' series aims to wrap up our reflections on the Federal Budget, and plant the seeds for what comes next as we continue with perseverance, hope, passion and courage to change the hearts and minds of our nation's leaders.

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    It’s politics 101. You manage the public’s expectations, making them think something is going to be really bad, then you deliver something that is a little better than what people expected.

    I confess....I fell victim to it.

    I was overseas when I first heard that the government had delayed their commitment to reaching 0.5% GNI to aid by just one year. I had received word that the budget could be bad, so I thought “that’s not too bad. It could have been worse" 

    Politics 101 - they got me.

    Since returning home, the more I sit with their decision, the angrier I get about it. Why Mr Swan? Why Prime Minister? At the same time I am asking myself why? I’m a pretty relaxed person, so why am I so angry? 

    Is it broken promises? The lack of answers? The unknown lives that will be lost or damaged? They’re all good reasons to be angry. But for me, what is really angering me is the realisation that my nation’s leaders are not passionately committed to the same things that I am committed to. They don’t value the same things I value. They say they do, but actions speak louder than words and their actions two weeks ago show a different reality.

    As a follower of Jesus, one of my highest values is the preservation and flourishing of human life. That is something Jesus followers (should) protect and pursue vigorously.

    I’ve thought a lot about this next statement, and I don’t say it lightly, but I feel I need to say it....

    My government does not sufficiently value the preservation and flourishing of human life!

    That’s what makes me angry

    I’m open to being challenged on that. I'm not saying that the government or its members don't value life - clearly they do, and there are all sorts of caveats the government could validly make.....economic caveats, political caveats.....but none of them change the reality that they failed to prioritise the lives of the poor when a difficult decision needed to be made. Make no mistake, it was VERY possible for them to do so. Other values trumped the value of the lives of the world's poorest people.

    On this blog over the next week we have asked a series of people to provide perspectives on how it is that they look forward in the wake of the disappointment of the budget announcement. What do they see? For me, what does the realisation that our government’s moral vision is less than what I hoped for mean for how I act in response?

    As Christians, disillusionment is not an option. As Christians we don’t let what is happening in the world shape our view of God, we let our understanding of God shape the way we view and interact with the world. 

    If Ms Gillard, Mr Swan and their team insufficiently value human life and its flourishing, then our response needs to be to redouble our efforts to ensure that it keeps moving up the priority list in a political space where there are hundreds of competing priorities. We need to better communicate a political and moral vision for society that is not my vision or your vision....but God’s vision. The creator’s own vision for the creator’s creation.

    In the next two months we launch fresh campaigns addressing corruption and creation/environment. These will go side by side with renewed efforts to make our aid (both quantity & quality) more effective for saving lives and reducing poverty. These campaigns are about a fresh vision for how we do life together in the world. Looking forward and imagining the possibilities these three campaigns will provide for us to create real and lasting change, I feel faith building within me. I've been privileged to see Australians influence change and shift political priorities on a number of occassions so I know that a renewed prioritising of the lives of the poor is possible.

    And what about you? I want to challenge each and every one of us to once again commit ourselves to the cause of eradicating extreme poverty. The biblical prophets communicated a message from God because they were compelled to do so – regardless of whether that message was effective or not by the standards of the world. They spoke because God called them to do so.

    This is a test of our faith, this is a test of our commitment to hope, this is a test of our prophetic imagination, this is a test of our perseverance.

    The Apostle Paul says something about perseverance for the sake of the good news in Romans 5 – suffering (even the shared suffering of our brothers and sisters in developing nations) produces perseverance, character and hope.

    And the promise? Hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts through the Lord Jesus.

    Policies, politicians and parliaments come and go.

    Jesus remains. Hope remains.

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    John Beckett (known to most of us as JB) works as the National Coordinator of Micah Challenge.