Readers will note that Nurturing Justice has giving a lot of its attention to how a Christian political option may become a reality. And so a lot of the discussion is about hurdles to such an option that are implicit in our contemporary early 21st way of “doing politics”.
But politics is not only what “they” (i.e the politicians) do. Our everyday conversation can easily slip into that seemingly “common sense” view of politics we will confront every day. But politics is also about what citizens, members of the polity, do – how they are represented, how they vote when required to do so and what they support.
Citizens are also responsible for what is happening in public legal terms in their locality. We have a strange bifurcation in Australian politics – a dimension of our public governance is assumed to be “a-political”. I am referring to local government. The idea that Local Government is not about politics is seemingly confirmed by the fact that it is not actually recognised as a level of government in our Commonwealth Constitution. And so, when Nurturing Justice puts forward the view that Christians who are eager to serve in public office should also be cutting their teeth on “local government” issues, or by standing at the next local council election, an implicit ambiguity is raised already about our way of “doing politics”.
Nevertheless local issues as much as local conversations about political issues at local, State and Federal level, will continue. And in this context (i.e a context in which we assume that to be a responsible citizen also means a responsibility to talk about political issues with our household, our neighbours, our community) it might prove useful if some easy to understand examples of possible face-to-face political conversation were given.
Let’s do so with 4 simple and straight forward examples:
- FLAGS AND RAINBOWS: The local council has been requested by local people who are sympathetic to “the LGTBIQ community” to fly the “rainbow flag” as a symbol of solidarity with these fellow citizens who, it is presumed, are being excluded from full participation in our polity because of the current definition of lawful marriage. I can imagine that some Christians opposed to “marriage equality” might want to complain about the fact that the rainbow is not firstly and exclusively a possession of the LGTBIQ lobby. What about public governance’s responsibility to protect those who may wish to wear rainbow lapel pins, or dress in rainbow colours, as signs of Christian hope? Why should they be viewed as supporters of a measure to which they are opposed? In this context Nurturing Justice would simply suggest to such rainbow lapel-pin wearing Christians that they wear the pin, and dress colourfully, and when asked why they are doing so, they should say, politely and quietly, that they are wanting to align with God’s love and mercy, just as Noah was informed after the flood. Of course such an action might not catch on among Christians but there is an issue here of whether Government, at whatever level, should fly such a flag from such a specially constructed flag-pole that has been erected from rates of all ratepayers. It’s a possible issue for conversation. And Christians do live under the teaching of Jesus who said that God sends rain and sunshine on just and unjust alike!
- SEXUAL IDENTITY: When Jesus gave the definitive exposition of the meaning of the 6th Commandment: “You have heard that it was said to you, “Thou shalt not commit adultery” he makes the statement that the adulterer is “whosoever sizes up a woman with covetous intent”. That “whosoever” is actually all inclusive. Husbands are included and Jesus does not, as 21st century moralistic readings are still prone to do, insert the word “another” as in “another woman”. The proscription against covetousness in relation to the marriage relationship confirms marriage as a male-female bond with a God-given integrity that is to be preserved. The mythic notion that “sexual identity” is discovered by self-analysis of who one desires – whether male or female – is already in violation of Jesus’ definitive exposition of the commandment.
- PLACE NAMES AND PUBLIC JUSTICE: Communities, villages, towns and cities have names, and from that name the residents gain a geographic identity. The are people at a place, their place. When such place names, by which people identity themselves in their communities, are used for marketing purposes by real estate companies then an injustice is being perpetrated no matter how many road signs, no matter how much fudging, ducking and weaving by those who have engaged in place name theft. Just because local government, state or federal government has not stood up to this place name theft does not mean that an injustice has not been perpetrated. Moreover for such real estate firms to use the placename as the URL for their web-site: http://www.placename.com.au is, in fact, place name theft. [Nurturing Justice has been drawing attention to this for some years and in the context of a public governance “blind eye” at all levels, the advice now is to simply refer to this, quietly and politely, when appropriate in conversation.]
- DISABILITY MANAGEMENT: Currently, Australia is experiencing the early stages of the roll-out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. It shows every indication that significant changes will be brought to the way in which care for disabled persons is managed. Many telling “points” could be made – we will return to this in subsequent posts “Everyday Justice in Conversation” posts. For starters we would simply insist that the just management of those who are seriously disabled and who have progressive conditions cannot be adequately achieved if worker-continuity with those they serve is not properly safeguarded. Such intense care between the Personal Care Attendant and the disabled person will often develop into deep friendships. Great wisdom will be needed in the management of such services. The claim is that NDIS will ensure that the disabled person, and her/his family, will have greater say over how the care is to be managed. But in such situations many obvious matters can too easily fall through the cracks. Insightful advocacy will be needed more than ever before.
Four for starters.