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I have a random idea to throw at you

by ervte

I say the 2022 elections are over – but counting – and not a moment too soon. I don’t think I could have lasted another week to watch the candidates battle it out without stopping using media altogether – a tricky thing to negotiate if you’re a journalist.

I don’t necessarily think it’s the candidates’ fault that election campaigns are so painful. Presumably, they have a bus full of advisors telling them what to say and what to focus on. And after weeks of campaigning, flying in and out of fringe seats, making the same speech, visiting endless factories, nurseries, and retirement homes under the eagle eye of the press… well, the poor things are probably too exhausted to think for themselves.I have a random idea to throw at you

I imagine someone briefing them between gigs, reminding them to address their opponent’s weaknesses – and giving them the sound bytes to do it. Plus, the media wants to make them do anything that they can report that is shocking enough to get clicks from campaign-weary Aussies.

But I think most would agree that election campaigns are far from an uplifting time in our nation. Do we need to see ‘gotcha’ moments repeating themselves when we compare complex health, economics, and education policies?

Watching a middle-aged man forget his rules or trip over a kid he’s playing sports with is awkward enough the first time — but repetitive? Ah. It isn’t very good. For God’s sake, we’re trying to decide who’s best to run the country.

Now that all the red tape is over, it’s time to move on to being a Christian in a pluralistic society – salt and light.

The problem is that we Christians cannot agree on what that should look like. We are pluralism within pluralism. So let’s not get into that today.

I have a random idea I want to pitch to you.

What if Christians held our politicians accountable for the tone of Australia’s public talks?

Now, I’m not suggesting letting the police check the entire country. When hurt people are angry, let’s show compassion and allow them to express it. God knows the last thing non-Christian Australians want is the Christians to hold them back.

What if, as an act of service to our fellow Australians, we asked our political representatives to be honest, transparent, and respectful?

But what if, as an act of service to our fellow Australians, we ask our political representatives to be honest, transparent, and respectful?

I know, I know, it sounds like a utopia. It’s probably not possible. And does it even matter when we want to influence policy content?

But I think language and policy often go hand in hand with politics. Our politicians choose words intended to influence our opinion of their policies. If the people who come to Australia to apply for asylum are, for example, “queue jumpers” and “illegals”, then we don’t want them here. But if it’s just people who have come to Australia to seek asylum, we need more information before deciding.

I think it is in our interest to be free from language-based manipulation when weighing important national issues. None of us want to be manipulated; politicians from all walks of life have been getting away with it for a long time.

Imagine if we, as Christians, confronted a politician when they called names and whistled dogs and said, “Please don’t demonize and scapegoat people by convincing me that your policy is the best for Australia. Let’s try that again, without the spider.”

What if we were the ones who said, ‘It’s inappropriate for a national leader to criticize people and take cheap shots. Everyone is a man created by God and deserves your respect.”

And what if, when “our man” was caught lying, we cried out and said, “That’s unacceptable. I can’t vote for you next time if you can’t be honest. It is a fundamental requirement for national leadership.”

How would we ever do this?

First, we had to get our own house in order. We should ban sniping and mockery from our conversations. Stop imitating the pollies’ discussion points. Give up the swear words and vehement statements that others are heretics.

But then we could stand up for truth, transparency, and respect in the same way Australian Christians now make their views known. In our comments on social media, emails to MPs, letters to the editor, and at the next election, in our vote.

Here’s the thing: There are plenty of topics that our compatriots and women don’t appreciate Christians talking about. And the whole “salt and light” thing means that sometimes we have to suck anyway.

But I think there would be a lot less complaining if the Aussie Christians were most persistently advocating truth, transparency, and respect from our politicians. Suppose we were known for our tenacious determination to boost political discourse in our country.

And imagine how much better the next election campaign would be if we succeeded!

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