Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Efficacy (Or Lack Thereof) of Politics

As one who identifies himself primarily as a still-eager Catholic convert, I must admit that many of my recent posts have been specifically unrelated to my Catholicism.

I lived in Ottawa, our nation's capital, for a few years, and my favorite way to blow an afternoon was by going to Question Period and observing. This was back in the heyday of Stockwell Day and Jean Chretien and Jane Stewart and Don "Binder Boy" Boudria, and it was an exciting time to observe.

During those years, I began to realize that I may be called to enter politics someday. This isn't something I tremendously want to do; it's more something that I feel I must do out of a sense of civic duty, as there are few people in Parliament that relate to my worldview and can reliably represent it in government (a notable exception is Jason Kenney).

Yet even with that, I'm under no illusions about the ability of politics or government to do any good. British political historian Edward Jenks argued that the main purpose of government can be found in its origins - to be a military provider. Thus the sword is a more accurate symbol of government than the ballot box. Western democracy is a recent innovation in governing styles, and it will crumble once the public realizes they can vote themselves the contents of the treasury (I believe it was Plato that first stated that) - and that's a path we've already set several strides upon in Canada.

Government is there to keep the peace and to judge those who would destroy it. Politics is the art of convincing people that one person or group can govern better than another, and it can never be anything more. And neither government nor politics can truly help the poor, provide universal health care, or educate the uneducated. Historically, these social requirements have been fulfilled by the Church. One could argue that giving government the responsibility for social welfare, health care, and education has eroded the Church's contribution to these fields, much to our detriment.

We recently had two nuns over to spend some time with our family. It's important for us to present a religious vocation as an appealing life to our kids, and what better way than to become familiar and intimate with men and women who have sacrificed earthly marriage for divine marriage?

Yet these nuns are not from around here; they hail from Nigeria, where vocations are flourishing. Our Canadian government has impacted the Church quite negatively by quietly and slowly removing all elements of religion from health care and education, and that, among other factors, has had an impact on vocations. We need to take these fields back; not with an eye on political power, but with an eye on the poor, the sick, and the uneducated, to demonstrate the love of Christ for all people.

For bonus points, who is the one politician of renown in recent years who has recognized the place of faith in public life as such? Hint: US Democrats think he's the devil.

1 comment:

  1. Jason Kenney quoted John Paul II extensively in the parliamentary debate on the Euthanasia Bill. He's awesome! Pray that God would bless him and that he would continue to have the courage of his convictions.


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