Many of you who read this blog know that I have taken up running this year. It's been a rewarding experience with some weight loss, an improvement in my overall health and the rewards of reaching goals and milestones. This morning was particularly rewarding as I ran along a leaf covered trail surrounded by the magnificent fall colors. As I ran, I was reflecting on what I've observed at the Legislature over the past month when I had something of an 'aha' moment. The thought crossed my mind that politics has supplanted governance as the main focus of our elected leaders. Sadly, it means that most decisions are made on the basis of what is most appealing to the electorate vs. what is best for the citizens as a whole. Some believe that this is a paternalistic approach to governance. I disagree. I say that we need a shift in our political leadership culture that moves away from pandering to the interest groups that support you and towards a more serious commitment to the common good and in particular the needs of those who are most vulnerable among us.
As Europe teeters on the brink of financial collapse and America wanders through the doldrums of a painfully slow economic recovery, it's time to recognize (again) that we find ourselves in a difficult situation as a province and nation. We do not exist in a vacuum and what happens south of the border and across the ocean has a significant impact upon our economy. That impact will ultimately affect health care delivery, education, transportation, infrastructure and the list goes on.... No amount of political rhetoric, chest pounding or desk thumping is going to provide what we so desperately need.
We need leaders who are willing to risk political pressure from party insiders in order to ensure that the poor, weak and oppressed among us find justice, support and help. We need leaders who can step away from outside political pressure and being owned by special interest groups to address the pressing issues of our day. We need leaders who are able to move beyond their personal interests and 'hobby-horse' issues and find a way to work pro-actively towards solutions that appeal to the broad base of the population. Ultimately we need leaders who are willing to show leadership rather than vote hungry politicians whose decisions are based on gaining or retaining power. What we need is particularly challenging to find in an adversarial system designed to score points by making the people on the other side of the aisle look bad.
A number of years ago, a Cabinet minister asked me an important question: "How do I serve God in this place?' It's challenging to say the least, especially in light of what I've written previously, but I firmly believe that the Church has a key role in supporting those who seek to govern from that stance. I don't necessarily think that our answer is in 'taking over government' with our own political agenda. At some point we need to recognize that the kingdom is not of this world and that our primary concern is to be salt and light within our world. I do think that the answer is found in the church taking up it's role as priest within our nation.
Priests fill the role of intercessor through praying for those who lead. We must pray for those who are entrusted to lead our province regardless of their political ideology. Priests fill the role of advocates and a voice for those who are oppressed and experiencing injustice. We need to speak for those who can't speak for themselves. Priests 'stand in the gap' between those who are separated by ideology. We need to find ways to build bridges towards a more proactive approach. Finally, we need to be servants. There are tremendous opportunities for the church to serve it's leaders and it's community by meeting the tangible needs that surround us.
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