By Hanna Coppes, Ottawa Office Advocacy Research Intern
I had often viewed the task of engaging in politics as a daunting, overwhelming task that could be left, to journalists, to political science students, or to people who just have too much time on their hands. I rarely thought of political engagement as a major task of Christians or Christian organizations.
I held the belief that politics should be left to the politicians, and Christians should worry about running soup kitchens and showing Jesus’ love directly to the world. The work of soup kitchens, shelters, after school programs, and all of the international relief and development work done by grassroots organizations including MCC without a doubt play an essential role in displaying Christ’s love, and becoming God’s hands and feet in a hurting world.
Broadening my worldview.
My program of Social Justice and Peace Studies at the University of Western Ontario encouraged students to develop a critical eye towards understanding the systemic injustices that have permeated all aspects of daily life. A major influence of systemic norms, values, and daily life is without a doubt is our political system.
What should the Christian approach be to this body of influence?
The well-known Chinese proverb says, “Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish he eats for a lifetime,” and the church has played an essential role in both giving and teaching people to fish.
Christian author and activist Shane Claiborne in his book Irresistible Revolution: Living as an ordinary radical articulates the idea adopted by many Christian advocates stating, “We give people fish. We teach them to fish. We tear down the walls that have been built around the fish pond. And we figure out who polluted it.”
Tearing down the walls that have been built around the fish pond.
What are the walls within the current system that inhibit people from accessing essential resources in providing for their well-being?
Figuring out who polluted it.
Is there specific legislation that could be implemented to ensure better distribution of resources? Is there current legislation that has hindered this access?
This does not mean as Christian advocates we should be pointing our finger at politicians, or at specific laws and simply pass judgement. Instead, in order to approach every situation with love as advocates we attempt to hold government officials accountable to the needs and rights of Canadians, and our brothers and sisters around the world. We attempt to stand in solidarity and love with Canadians, with MCC program, with our friends, and with politicians. Engaging in politics involves not only approaching the world with a critical eye, but also understanding the priorities of the current government in order to fully understand where it would be best effective to exercise our voice, and raise awareness to the public around the systemic injustice.
Who polluted the fish pond? Let’s engage and work to bring down the walls.