• Why I'm buying Joe Hockey a goat this Christmas

    Posted by John

    18 December, 2013

    For the last 3 years my wife and I have received goats for Christmas. The practise of buying a gift on behalf of a friend for someone in need elsewhere has become a common part of Christmas for many of us. And it’s a great idea. It makes a difference in the lives of poor people and communities while at the same time keeping some of the potential excess of Christmas in check.

    I confess that I mostly stay out of the gift buying in our house. I hope that most of the ‘Aussie male’ stereotypes don’t apply to me, but on this one I am guilty. But this year is different. This year I’ll be buying a goat....and giving it to my MP, Joe Hockey.

    Why would I buy Joe Hockey a goat this Christmas?

    A little bit of back story..... Many of you will know that two days before the election, my Federal MP Mr Hockey, at the time the would-be Treasurer, stood in front of the cameras and advised the Australian people that the Coalition, if elected, would be cutting $4.5 billion from the aid budget over the next 4 years, thereby breaking a promise that the Coalition had held firm for all 6 years that they were in Opposition.

    A lot of people were angry. We shouted as loud as we could. But to be honest, trying to shout loud about the desperate needs of our neighbours across the seas in a media environment dominated by boats and budget mismanagement gave me flashbacks to the time I tried to do a radio interview while my three young daughters found their way into the pots and pans cupboard. Needless to say, neither worked particularly well! Yet the anger remained – for me and for many others.

    The natural tendency when you are angry is to try to shout louder. But we sensed that something different was needed. Something deeper.

    The truth is, I’m concerned. And while the cuts to aid are the background to that concern, the concern is much deeper. I’m concerned at the dominant public and political narrative in our nation and about what that means for who we are as Australians. It’s a narrative that suggests (either explicitly or implicitly) that the economy is our nation’s number one priority. It’s a narrative that both major political parties, along with the media, have bought into. It’s a narrative that must be challenged.

    The economy is vitally important, no doubt, and the mismanagement of it is cause for not only concern, but also action. Yet the economy is not an end in itself. It is only ever a means to an end. To put it simply – the economy serves people, people do not serve the economy. People are at the heart of this nation. People, both within our borders and beyond, must be the priority in our political and public narrative.

    The teaching on money in the Christian tradition highlights that the best way to remind ourselves that money is not our master is to practise generosity. When we practise generosity we actively love our neighbours. When we practise it, we get better at it. By giving things away, we remind ourselves that the whole world is God’s and everything in it. Anything we are given, we are given that we might be wise stewards of it.

    I’m buying Joe Hockey a goat this Christmas as an active reminder to myself and to Mr Hockey that money is not our national master. The economy is meant to serve a purpose beyond itself – to contribute to the flourishing of life in our communities across this country and across the world.

    Shifting a nation’s narrative is a big task. This is only a small contribution toward that goal. Yet big change is always the accumulation of thousands of small contributions to that change. And what better time than Christmas, when we celebrate the extraordinary generosity and grace of God in sending Jesus into the world to identify with us, to remind both ourselves and our leaders, that there is a better way.

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    John Beckett is the National Coordinator of Micah Challenge Australia.

    If you would like to join him in sending your MP a card and optional gift this Christmas, then visit our webpage for more details.