Downtown politics and hope
To call me a dilettante in politics would be generous. I have opinions in spades, but pay just enough attention to the issues to come off as informed, without ever gaining any depth of understanding of underlying policy.
Nevertheless, I attended a political forum today on downtown issues. What I heard affirmed my belief that I really can't get behind any one party -- perhaps a terrible admission to make when I strongly believe people should be informed and vote when given the opportunity. But, I find, I don't really care whose idea it is; if it's a good one, implement it already and enough with the partisanship!
The politicians, of course, danced around all the questions, slighting each others' record whenever possible, speaking in generalities and platitudes, harping on certain platform issues regardless of their relevance to constituent question. As one of the moderators said at the end of the debate, "Ten years from now, we'll be back here, debating these very same issues." Nobody really had anything new or different to throw at the problems; no one had any truly fresh ideas that might actually produce change.
Oddly, I walked away encouraged. In part, because I heard some of my favourite topics addressed in terms I like (e.g. rapid transit, increased residential downtown). In large part, I think, because the two party leaders present came out as human beings. The one had previously come across to me as a brash, confident-talking, know-it-all. Though I was irritated with his constant jabs at "12 years of the current government" as though his party's previous 12ish years had any better of a track record, overall, I was impressed with his humility and humanity, particularly in his treatment of one very irate woman, who was really there to harangue politicians about a personal grievance, not to ask a question.
The other party leader also stooped to kick dirt on the other parties more often than I'd expect from a political leader who is usually accorded a great deal of respect for being a gentleman. Overall, he seemed true to reputation, and I appreciated him for being the only one, in the discussion on being tough on crime, to bring up the importance of giving people something constructive to do as an alternative.
More than one audience member challenged the tough-on-crime rhetoric, and while the politicians' answers were less than satisfactory, at least the audience support for a different set of glasses was encouraging.Perhaps politics is a less depressing place for Christians than for others. We appreciate the government's work and the earnest efforts of many dedicated individuals. Though disappointed, we are not surprised at the deception, the lying, the broken promises -- after all, all humans are fallen. Ultimately, at the end of the day, we don't pin our hopes on the political process. Governments can be God's instrument for order, civility, and social security, but they are not where our hope lies. Whether we see the best or the worst of humanity in policies, procedures, and programs, our hope comes from above all that in the love of God and the reconciliation of Jesus. It's a terribly simplistic answer, and an awfully odd place to land up when I started with political jousting over a barren and violent patch of urban real estate, but I truly believe something about it is true.