Not long now till the big day. Whatever you think of Russell Brand, his sense of disengagement from the political process is increasingly widespread. People are largely cynical and suspicious of politicians and their claims. But more than anything, it is this attitude that threatens to erode our democracy, and with it, the foundations of civil society, law and order. Rather than complain, we are called to engage, seek to understand the different positions of the parties, and to vote. In every age, for every grubby politician, there are many more good MPs who are true servants of the nation. Think of Thomas More, Chancellor of England, who preferred to die than to compromise his conscience, or William Wilberforce, who worked tirelessly to overthrow the slave trade.
Pope Francis has recently said some surprising things about politics. In a recent homily, he described politics as 'the highest form of charity'. The Pope rejected the idea that “a good Catholic doesn’t meddle in politics. That’s not true. That is not a good path. A good Catholic meddles in politics, offering the best of himself, so that those who govern can govern. None of us can say, ‘I have nothing to do with this, they govern,’” Pope Francis said. Rather, citizens are responsible for participating in politics according to their ability, and in this way are responsible for their leadership. “Politics, according to the Social Doctrine of the Church, is one of the highest forms of charity, because it serves the common good,” he explained. “I cannot wash my hands, eh? We all have to give something!” He noted that it is sometimes common for people to speak only critically of their leaders, to complain about “things that don’t go well.” Instead of simply complaining, we should offer ourselves – our ideas, suggestions, and most of all our prayers. Observing that prayer is “the best that we can offer to those who govern,” he pointed to St. Paul’s letter to Timothy inviting prayer for the conversion and strong leadership of those in authority. Even if they believe certain politicians to be “wicked,” Christians should pray “that they can govern well, that they can love their people, that they can serve their people, that they can be humble,” he said.
Today, we are all so numbed by all the electioneering spin-doctoring, we can forget that there are crucial issues at stake: how to uphold the dignity of life at a time when pressure is now mounting for euthanasia in our country and scant regard is given to the unborn, the sick and marginalised, how to overcome the nation's bankruptcy whilst not forgetting the plight of the most vulnerable in society, how to relate to the wider world whether it be our membership of the European Union, or our attitudes towards the stranger and asylum seeker, and how to make our society, our education system, our care and health provision, more human, and how to defend ourselves from those who seek to harm us.
So, there is alot at stake. Remember Edmund Burke's maxim, 'All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing'. The least all of us can do on Thursday is to vote. If you are completely stuck, try one of the online quizzes to see how your attitudes match with those of the major parties.