Saturday, September 5, 2009

Rules of Engagement

It's taken me a while to finally say it, but I know now that politics and advocacy isn't my thing; anything but the mildest and lowest-profile forms of social activism is unlikely to appeal to me. Because something about the 'posture' and 'rules' required in socio-political activism feels somewhat incongruous with what I understand to be the Way of Jesus Christ.

If you're playing football, it makes
absolutely no sense to ask why you have to protect the goal, control the midfield, beat the offside trap, seek protection from the referee, score more goals than the opposing team and so on. To even question tenets like this suggest you're either playing a different game or you're playing for charity.

Likewise in the political domain. Here the virtually non-negotiable rules of engagement I've noticed are as follows:

  • never give credit to the other side even if they're doing a good deed - find a reason to be suspicious (and if that fails, raise more questions)

  • condemn virtually every dubious statement/action made - show your anger fast (and don't forget to turn the volume up); shoot first, solve the original issue later (if at all)

  • never raise questions about the leaders and methods use by the side you favour (or, at least, never raise these publicly)

  • never apologise - but demand apologies for every possible hint of an insult made

  • never speak in a reconciliatory way or tell your side to be more forgiving (this almost sounds like an alien language - which is why the Martin Luther King, Jr.s' and Gandhis' are so rare among political leaders)
Try it. Take some of the above and do the opposite. Seriously.

Do it a few times. You can bet your voting form you'll be singled out for 'fixing' some time soon (regardless of which 'side' you're on).

I don't deny that
some of the above is necessary in a (very real) world of political abuse, suppressed freedoms and neglected injustices. I decry, though, the idea that we have NO CHOICE but to accept this as the primary way of bringing about change.

Maybe one day a leader will come along and offer something so radical and true I'll know for sure that's the way to go. I
thought Jesus Christ offered a new way of 'doing politics'. Whilst Jesus certainly wouldn't condone the abusive use of the Internal Security Act, I'm not sure He'd be pleased with the above 'non-negotiables' either which seem to contradict not only the "Love your enemy" command but also the one to "Love your neighbour as yourself".

Alas not enough Christians think so. Most question whether Jesus' talk of radical love and reconciliation applies to political scenarios, though almost all are sure that to be 'prophetic' does not include forgiving one's enemies and praying for them.

I confess I still don't understand. Again...I thought Jesus Christ offers another way of political activism. Maybe I'm wrong. But for now I'll keep on listening. Hoping. Waiting.

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