Fri | Apr 12, 2024

It is your Christian duty ... go and vote!

Published:Sunday | February 25, 2024 | 12:08 AM
JLP and PNP supporters along Collie Smith Drive, St Anderw Southern, on Nomination Day, February 8.
JLP and PNP supporters along Collie Smith Drive, St Anderw Southern, on Nomination Day, February 8.
1
2

JLP or PNP? Andrew Holness or Mark Golding? Recently, a Nationwide News Network question of the day was – ‘Mark or Andrew’? I responded to say, “Both Mark and Andrew are biblical names of Jesus’s disciples. May we continue this exploration regarding Mark or Andrew in light of the Kingdom values of Jesus Christ.”

I believe that a Christian who is serious about service of country should be open to changing side, colour, party and so on. However, what we see are many who refuse to be guided by interest of country and forever wedded to faithfulness to party over faithfulness to country. There is also the place for a good conscience. Are you able to follow your conscience when deep within you are being led to change for wholesome reasons?

There are Christian principles to be considered around development and politics and such matters. The word ‘politics’ is not a ‘bad word’. Simply put, ‘political’ comes from the Latin ‘politicus’ referring to citizens, the state and matters civil and civic. In other words, politics is concerned with people, state, along with civil and civic concerns.

There was a time when the capacity to vote was determined by whether you were propertied or not propertied, male or female, free or enslaved. Even black or white! We have come a far way.

In Jamaica, the matter of politics and voting is inseparable from the daily realities of poverty and power dynamics. Different appeals to the poor are driven by different intentions and motives. But what are some things for us all to consider?

Professor of urban planning at the University of California at Los Angeles, John Friedman. observes that the social unit of the poor is the household which is impacted by state, political community, civil society, and corporate economy. Bryant Myers in Walking With The Poor, reflecting on Friedman, notes, “Friedman’s understanding of poverty brings a more sophisticated understanding of how poverty is related to a lack of access to social power, in contrast to simply a lack of things or lack of knowledge. It also inserts poor households into a social system that goes beyond the local setting. The role of government, the political system, civil society, and the economy, integrated into the global economy, is now part of the field of play. Poverty is understood as a state of disempowerment. In addition, Friedman has introduced a psychological dimension to poverty and power. These are helpful developments.”

Bryant then goes on to make a very important observation that many miss today; and lack appreciation for. Friedman’s excellent exploration of poverty lacks a development of the spiritual dimension.

In Jamaica, we do well to recall that some of our most revered social institutions have consistently moved the potential agents of change in the direction of endless meetings, procrastinations, lovely reports, malaise, and failure. We should hear Bryant again: “Without a doctrine of principalities and powers, it is unclear why good people cannot make social institutions do what they were set up to do. Furthermore, there is no means to account for the destructive behaviors and poor choices of both the poor and the non-poor, nor for the fact that the poor often exploit each other.”

Principalities and powers are real. Many of the powers – political, religious, economic, criminal underworld etcetera, work together. A big vehicle is classism. The average citizen does not know this. There are social systemic connections which ensure that the poor remain dependent on the non-poor.

Bryant Myers cites Jayakumar Christian who recognises how the social system reinforces the powerlessness of the poor by exclusion and exploitation. “The non-poor understand themselves as superior, necessary, and anointed to rule. They succumb to the temptation to play god in the lives of the poor, using religious systems, mass media, the law, government policies, and people occupying positions of power. These people create the narratives, structures, and systems that justify and rationalise their privileged position. The result is that the poor become captive to the god-complexes of the non-poor.”

On another note, the recent tragic event, which saw a boy losing his life on the campaign trail, has seen many making a knee-jerk reaction as declarations are made that children should not be allowed on political campaign trails. Not many realise that we have a national problem of indiscipline. Rules and laws concerning driving and road use, are illegally suspended during periods of political campaign. All this while the law enforcers monitor the convoys. Adults cease to exercise discipline and sound judgment.

Adults also experience tragedy on campaign trails. Should they therefore be prevented from going on political campaigns? We need a more disciplined society.

In the meanwhile, who in your community has a history, past and present, to effectively develop, manage and maintain infrastructure and public facilities such as the parochial roads, water supplies, drains and gullies, parks, recreational centres, markets, abattoirs, cemeteries, transportation centres, public sanitary conveniences and public beaches?

And which representative in your community has a history, past and present, to effect balanced and sustainable development of the parish, and major towns in particular, and advance boosting economic activity and local wealth creation within the parish?

It is your Christian duty. Now, go and vote!

Fr Sean Major-Campbell is an Anglican priest and advocate for human dignity and human rights. Send feedback to seanmajorcampbell@yahoo.com or columns@gleanerjm.com