Saturday, May 16, 2009

Bankrupt politics

Bankrupt politics
Written by Editor

We have deep convictions about the course our country is taking.We have stated before that this democracy we talk about so eloquently every day in itself guarantees us nothing. It offers us instead the opportunity to succeed as well as the risk of failure. And we think we are moving much faster in the direction of failure instead of success.

We have also stated that this democracy we sloganeer about in our country is both a promise and a challenge. It is a promise in the sense that if we all work together, we can collectively govern ourselves in a manner that will serve the aspirations of all our people for personal freedom, economic opportunity and social justice.

And we say this is a challenge because the success of all that we want to do, all that we aspire to rests upon our shoulders as citizens of this country and no one else. And we have reminded ourselves of the fact that a government of the people by the people means that the citizens of this country must share in its benefits and burdens. We must all take responsibility for the fate of our country. And when we fail, we should blame no one but ourselves. As it is said, in the end we will get a government we deserve.

We have exhorted our readers to delve deeply into these issues; help find solutions to our problems, advise those in politics, disseminate, as an essential thing, truthfully, without any dogmas and with broadmindedness, listening to everyone, without thinking that we are the owners of absolute truth.

There will no longer be one single thinker in this country. Hundreds of thousands of thinkers can make up the thinker our times need.

The system we are running is not benefitting the great majority of our people. It is just benefitting a small group of people in government and those connected or associated with them. Poverty is deepening by the day. And despair can be seen everywhere. And it is not difficult to understand and appreciate why the Catholics’ Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection are saying that they would like to see political ethics and governance standards promoted more in Zambia if democracy was to be seen growing. They are telling us that “politics is not just about getting the most votes or jostling each other around. It is about serving the needs of all people and bringing about full human and sustainable development”. They are also warning us that if Zambia continues along the lines of politics of personality and self interest, the poor and the marginalised will continue to suffer and democracy and good governance will forever be unattainable.

These views are coming from a Catholic Church organisation, a church that has been subjected to a lot of political attacks by those in government today; a church that has been told to stay away from politics and concentrate on preaching the word of God. But which word? We ask this question because Christ’s entire doctrine was devoted to the humble, the poor; His doctrine was devoted to fighting against abuse, injustice and the degradation of human beings. It is our fellow human being, and especially the one who lacks life and needs justice, in whom God wishes to be served and loved. They are the ones with whom Jesus identified. Therefore, there is no contradiction between the struggle for justice and the fulfillment of God’s will. One demands the other. All who work along that line of God’s scheme for life are considered Jesus’ brothers and sisters (Mark 3:31-35). This is the best way to follow Jesus, especially in Zambia’s present situation. We are told that the joys and hopes, the sorrows and anxieties of the women and men of our time, especially those who are poor or afflicted in any way, are the joys and hopes, the sorrows and anxieties of the followers of Jesus Christ.

If the political participation of Christians in political life is to be guided by the gospel values, no one would question what the Catholic Church is today doing in our country and label it ‘political’. Politics is an area of great importance for promoting justice, peace, development and community among all. And for this reason, all should be called to participate in it regardless of their other activities in life. And Christians should regard politics as a vocation, a way of building up society for the common good.

The challenges that our people face today are very complex and our politics do not match up to them. In fact, one can say the current politics in our country are bankrupt in terms of ideas and there is need for urgent change.

New ideas to prepare the people for the future are needed and we must start struggling right now. Beginning today, we must start building awareness – a new awareness. It is not that the country lacks awareness today; but such a new and complex era as this one requires principles more than ever. It requires a lot more awareness, and that awareness will be built, by adding together, we might say, the awareness of what is happening and the awareness of what is going to happen. It has to be built by adding together more than just one progressive thought and the best ethical and humane ideas of more than one religion, of all authentic religions, we would say – we are not thinking of sects, which of course are created for political ends and for the purpose of creating confusion and division – the sum total of the preaching of many political thinkers, of many schools and many religions.

We have a collective duty to make this country a good place for all of us to live in. And we should all understand that this country will not be good place for any of us to live in unless it’s a good place for all of us to live in. We therefore need to build a nation based on strong principles and high standards. As we have stated before, the individual does best in a strong and decent community of people with principles and standards and common aims and values. An individual does very badly in a weak, greedy, selfish and indecent community of vultures, hyenas and jackals. In such a society, goodness is fought and corruption reigns. Goodness is fought in such a society because genuine goodness is threatening to those at the opposite end of the moral spectrum.

We should therefore not allow the politics of our country to be relegated to trivialities chosen precisely because they salve the consciences of those in politics, of those in government, and conceal the plight of the poor and the marginalised.

We therefore encourage the church to take a keen interest in the way our country is governed and ensure that those who govern do not govern against the poor. And we feel the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection deserves much credit for its work in trying to foster from a faith-inspired perspective a critical understanding of current issues. And guided by the Catholic Church’s social teaching that emphasises human dignity in community, the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection has been able to generate activities for the promotion of the fullness of human life through research, education, advocacy and consultation. And in this spirit, we urge all Christians, all religious people in our country to dare to speak out, to dare to struggle for a more just, fair and humane society.

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