Wednesday, October 21, 2015

After the Election

SCRIPTURE: Mark 12:28-31
Written by: Dr Conrade Yap
Date: October 20th, 2015

28One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?

29“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.

It has been a long 78-day campaigning. For more than two months, different parties not only highlight their political manifesto, they paint negative images of their opponents. With rising discontent about the existing Federal government leadership in Ottawa, a lot of people have been making loud noises to replace the Conservative government, especially the former Prime Minister, Stephen Harper. Last week, when I was driving along Cambie Street and Broadway, at each corner of the busy intersection were individuals wearing placards that said: "Harper Out!" Evidently, Harper must have stepped on the tails of many people. Perhaps, it was his style of government or policies implemented. Maybe, it was the way he carried himself. Whatever it is, he is no longer Prime Minister. Effectively yesterday, he has resigned from his Conservative Party leadership. The people of Canada have spoken. A new government has been elected and the new Prime Minister-Elect will be Justin Trudeau, the one that Harper has constantly called out: "He's not ready."

“Canada is a country strong not in spite of our 
differences but because of them.” (Justin Trudeau)
The voices of Canadians have been loud and clear. They want a new party and a new Prime Minister, anything but conservatives; anything but Harper; anything but the status quo.  As of yesterday, the Liberal Party has become the majority government of Canada. Stephen Harper is out and Justin Trudeau is in. The majority of Canadians have voted for change. Many people celebrated through the night. Justin Trudeau gave a rousing and conciliatory victory speech. Today, he even surprised many commuters at a downtown Montreal subway station. You can watch the video here. Amid the celebrations, I hear sadness as well. The NDP leader, Tom Mulcair looked dejected as he conceded defeat in Montreal. Stephen Harper too pledged to work with the incoming party in his gracious speech over at Calgary. The question for this week is this: What about those who didn't vote for the Liberals?

Politics will always be a heated and controversial subject. After the elections, there will always be more than one emotions. Winners will feel exhilarated. Losers may be exasperated. Everyone would be exhausted to some degree. As I talk to people, in general, people are happy, most not because Liberal is the perfect choice, but because the Conservatives have been perceived so negatively. Just like the campaigners on Cambie Street that day, people are more happy about deposing and getting rid of Stephen Harper more than anything else. That in a way is sad. Why so much animosity for a person who had spent ten years leading the country? Why talk about him as if he is the enemy of Canada? Why demonize him as if he is utterly evil? Even Justin Trudeau recognized that sentiment when he said the following during his election speech:

"Conservatives are not our enemies. They are our neighbours."

If one is not convinced about the state of anti-Harper sentiment, one needs to reflect on why Trudeau had to say things like that. The mood at street level is clear. They may be happy at the Red Tide but they are happier celebrating the demise of the Blue Party, especially now that Harper has resigned. The more I think of it, I concur with Anthony Furey's opinion that Trudeau's win is more emotional than anything else. In the Toronto Sun's article, "Feelings beat facts in Trudeau's Victory," Furey observes pointedly that "This will be remembered as the election where feelings triumphed over facts. The election where style trumped substance."

As Christians, what can we do? Here are three things we can do, regardless of which party we voted for or support.

1) Thankfulness for the Passions and Voter Turnout

The people of Canada have spoken. Whichever party, supporter, or observer, we must respect the will of the people in choosing their government. The positive side is that there is a large voter turnout, which shows that Canadians are passionate about politics and positively concerned about the state of government. There is no apathy. Moreover, a sizeable number of voters are young and hopeful. According to Elections Canada, voter turnout in 2015 is 69.6%, the highest since 1993. Even at University campuses, social media has helped to spur the positive turnout.

It is always good to see participation levels rise throughout the country at all levels of society. It augers well because whoever governs will know for sure that they have the mandate by the people, and not just from a small proportion of the population.

2) Come Together as One People

Before the elections, feel free to support or promote a particular colour or specific party. After the election, there should be just one colour: Canada. This can sometimes be missed out by extremists who fail to see that the rainbow comprises of more than one colour. It symbolizes acceptance of one another regardless of what party we are affiliated to. It means we must stand as one people and one country. We must remain united in the face of challenges that often divide us as a people.

When Jesus was asked about which commandment was the greatest, he said LOVE. Love for God. Love for neighbour as much as one loves ourselves. It is about relationships. Our vertical union with God must be reflected in our horizontal relationships with people. We must learn to be colour-blind as far as unity for the nation is concerned. Under God, we are all neighbours. We need to live together as neighbourly as possible. Whether we drive or talk. Whether we communicate on social media or through the press. Whether we support a certain colour or not, we are all neighbours. Christians need to learn what it means to be a neighbour.

3) Pray for the leaders

Whoever is in power will definitely need a lot of help. Put aside any grievances or joyous celebrations. Now is the time to come together to pray. For the Word of God reminds us:

"1I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth." (1 Tim 2:1-3)

Paul did not make a distinction of whether it is a left-wing king or a right-wing ruler. Neither did he mention what party they belong to. It is an all-inclusive reference to those in power and in a position of government. As believers, we need to exercise our responsibilities as citizens or residents to pray regularly for them, regardless of what ideology or doctrines we hold. We all have our own opinions. In the eyes of the law, the new government has been elected properly and they need all of our support. Speak up against bad policies. Praise the policies that are good. Encourage them to exercise care and wisdom when in power. This must all be formed in the crucibles of prayer. May every Church be a force to be reckoned with as people pray. Pray against evil. Pray against the forces of darkness that seek to divide the country. Pray for unity among the leaders that the people will be able to live in peace.

THOUGHT: There is a difference between a "boss" and a "leader." The boss usually says: "You go!" The leader instead says: "Let us go together."


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