25 Aug, 2021 NZ Politics – Why I’m concerned but not at all depressed
NZ Politics: Why I’m concerned but not at all depressed
There is always going good and bad in a Government. For example, while we are in another coronavirus lockdown, the government is respecting the rights of individuals to have or not have vaccines. This is praiseworthy. While they are going to make is compulsory for businesses to record all visitors – for the purposes of tracking the virus when needed (requiring changes to the Human Rights Act, as far as I understand), they are not making use of the app compulsory. People could write their name, cell number and time of arrival/departure with a pen and paper. (For some, their privacy from an app that tracks them is a matter of personal freedom – because the know power corrupts). In both of these cases we see the Government doing what it feels it needs to do – yet with a regard for basic human rights and freedoms. This is praiseworthy!
However, there is much to be concerned about.
Some lamentation – before some hope
Here are some things that concern me – but freely move to the next part of this article once you feel you’ve got the picture.
In my observation, public information on many things continues to often express one side of an argument. The idea that the ‘press (public media) be kept separate to Government powers took about 1600 years after Jesus to become a reality. Today, our Government literally own a large portion of our public media – having bailed them out of debt. Public media is now clearly one-sided. (A survey on who the employees of media companies vote for would quickly reveal the picture). Critical race theory ideas (which are ironically often racism in the name of fighting racism – while justified by other points which are valid and on which most of us would agree) are tuning up in TV programmes. This was not the case one year ago. Not only have we passed euthanasia laws that have almost no limitations on them and which even supporters of euthanasia from other nations told us not to pass – opening a path for abuse (murder), we have also recently passed some of the most extreme abortion laws enabling a full-term baby to be killed without compassion or care. Hate speech laws have been proposed, with the timing for submissions having finished a couple of weeks ago. Conversion therapy laws are proposed, with submissions due within another two or three weeks. Of note, New Zealand has had no formal complaints regarding confusion therapy in at least 14 years – so what is going on? The emotion of long-past wrongs is being leveraged for something different, including playing the gender change game, removing certain rights from parents, empowering schools irrespective of the wishes of parents, and giving autonomy to children to decide on a gender change that includes use of powerful medications – while the same child does not otherwise even have enough authority to approve their own attendance at a school field trip to a beach. Public TV media – which is most people’s main source of information, hardly discusses these issues, leaving most of the public ignorant – trusting the positive sentiment of many of these things given by media. Significant change is therefore happening at pace, with many largely ignorant of the significance these laws changes which could threatening freedoms that took a literal 2000 years of history to become ours. We are one of the most the free, prosperous and equality-based nations in history – and we didn’t become so blessed by accident! What are we to do?
Were we to lament further (before I present a picture of hope), our Governments (left and right) have conditioned themselves over the past decade or two to largely ignore the public voice. This isn’t a ‘left’ vs ‘right’ issue. Listening by Government has often become tokenism. Once in power, a growing number of leader intend to use their power. They consider it their right to make the decisions they want – without regard for the will of the people who put them there. And if those who think like this can influence public media – they can maintain their positive public profile throughout. So it is noted, both sides of our political spectrum have ignored Citizen Initiated Referendum. The pattern isn’t good!
Where is this headed?
While our participation in our democracy is needed – by putting submissions in on matters and visiting politicians etc…, I think it reasonably clear that direction ahead of us is likely still a continuing legal loss of our current freedoms. We are a subset of a global movement, and people with power are working to take power! While the MMP voting system was intended as a protection against one party having too much power, Labour also currently has the numbers to do what it wants, and it requires very high morals for someone with power to not use it (Though they might surprise us).
For context – this loss of the ‘freedom of speech’ is already true for academics – as confessed in confidence by numerous of them. All that is happening is that we’re all about to join them. Government will have a tool in its hand with which it can silence opposing voices when it wants to.
To note it, the current Government might be made up of saints who won’t abuse power that is in their hands – but who will be in power after them? The idea of the ‘limitation of powers’ is vital to the sustaining of freedoms. It is supposed to be Government who serves the people – not the people who serve the Government. Every time the Government gets bigger, the people get smaller. Power corrupts – and absolute power corrupts absolutely. In summary, I think we can expect things to get worse. What are we to do about this? Look to God to step in and change things in our nation’s politics?
Why I think God probably won’t help us – though we must try, and might yet achieve good things together
As a final negative point – before discussing the hope: In looking to God, I see no guarantee of a great help coming from him in these matters. This might sound a strange comment – but this isn’t stated from any lack of faith, or from despair. God has released human beings to have free will and to exercise dominion over the earth!
I am a part of prayer groups that are praying for our nation and on these matters. We pray with passion, believing for God’s intervention.
Meanwhile, many of us have prayed regarding various matters of Government over past decades – and our wishes were not achieved. What happened?
Imagine we pray for a person to know Christ, and to enjoy good health. What if God knows that, through having bad health, they will come to a place of humility, from which they will come to faith? God, in his wisdom, answers our prayer in the bis way possible.
I believe we should pray with passion and faith for good decisions in our nation. Concurrently, we have to trust God’s good purposes. And regarding the emotions of worry and concern – which can lower our spirits through the day. We are only responsible for what we have the right and ability to control. None of us have the right or ability to control Government decisions – while do we do have the right and ability to control what we pray for, and whether or not we choose to actually engage with these matters as citizens can and should.
It remains that some people will try to take power of nations like ours, and do things that harm and hurt others. The worst of them will be those who are doing such things while believing they are for the good of people. Promotors of socialism and communism in history are the prime examples, believing themselves to be advocates for human equality while creating gross inequality, undermining freedoms, and increasing poverty. (55 nations fell to Communism in the past 100 years alone – illustrating this point very clearly).
We must be involved. God could raise people up to bring good! Let’s be part of that! But, from a look at history (as above), this is no guarantee – and for whatever reason it seems to me that this is often no guarantee!
Why I still have great hope!
Firstly, emotional health significantly comes from understanding (as noted above) that we are only responsible before God for the things we have both the right and ability to control. While we have the right and ability to engage with political matters, we don’t have the right or ability to control outcomes. So we must not allow ourselves to carry these things emotionally. This is a simple matter of emotional maturity. We must grow ourselves to not allow our emotions to be too strongly connected to things we have not been given by God to control!
However, beyond this I see that brokenness in lives is going to increase as a result of various laws, and the associated patterns of thinking. While I am sad about this, I realise this will also bring many people to a place of brokenness – at which point they will look for hope – and look up!
Watching devastation like this is nothing new too. It’s already happening around us as the result of values chosen by people and their families. We all already watch families being broken, and lives being wrecked, as the result of crazy thinking and values that people have found ways to self-justified – calling good evil, and evil good. And, through it all, it remains that as people hit ‘rock bottom’, they are humbled. Clarity of thought and courage then arises to consider the biggest and most important questions of life! Light can shine out of the darkness!
This morning in my Bible reading I was in Ezekiel. Chapter 38 was part of it. It speaks of a future battle in which Russia, Turkey and a nation from the upper Nile river (amongst others) will join to bring a great army against Israel. There will be a mighty earthquake. They will be struck by all manner of things (rain, hail and sulphur) from the sky. There will be devastation. The message I take from this is that we remain in a broken world. God is not going to step in and stop suffering – yet. God is not going to save us from ourselves – yet. There is a history that has yet to unfold – and only then will the great restoration of all things take place. While we must engage with various political and other matters when we can, we cannot allow our emotions to be controlled by these matters. There are other things we should be looking to – like God, and also the eternal hope he could yet bring to the lives of many.
This isn’t yet heaven. And freedom isn’t something a Government actually gives. A person can be politically free – and yet in bondage to sin and brokenness. Another could be in prison – and feel free because of Christ! What is most important? Irrespective of what the future holds for our personal / political freedoms, we are loved by God, and we can live with purpose and all hope!
Understanding why our role might be more at the ‘bottom of the cliff’ than the top
As a final thought – I’m someone who would prefer to work at the ‘top of the cliff’ rather than the bottom. I’m sure we all know the illustration. Instead of helping sheep who’ve fallen over a cliff (social care), would it not be wiser to put a fence at the top (education and Government policy) aimed at prevention? However, we cannot control what other people do – and for this reason I suggest our role as Christian believers is often ‘doomed’ to be more at the bottom of the cliff than the top.
We are in a culture that has rejected the idea of ‘God’. Morality is therefore something that is made up. Those with power get to define our morality. Our Government has rejected the idea of God, and with it the acceptance that there is a moral code above them that they are accountable to. The fact that they are under laws is written into our laws – and this is some protection. But they can erode those ‘limitations’ one by one. This is what I view the Hate Speech and Conversion Therapy laws as prime examples of.
It is therefore an unavoidable conclusion in my view that things are going to decline. For example, these are the conditions in which honesty will decline in society – and corruption increase. Because power corrupts if there is no higher moral restraint (like that coming from belief God is above us and watching), these are the conditions in which power will be pursued, taken and used. All history-past stands to show us this is where things go without the moral restraints coming from the Judea-Christian belief systems. Who, having gained power, voluntarily gives it away? (Meanwhile, democracy only survives when people DO limit their own power to only what is needed to protect the wider rights and freedoms of the people).
‘The writing is on the wall’!
So, we’re going to end up in a society in which more people will be hurt. There will be women suffering deep guilt from babies they know they killed. Many of us know such people – and we do not judge them, right?! We have all compassion – but this is a reality, and we will continue to be there to help anyone and everyone! There will be older people and sick people pressured to take their lives through euthanasia – and family divisions and pain associated. With every choice that breaks the high morality God gives, people will get hurt, and we will continue to be the ones who are there to help them – just like we’ve done for 2000 years!
And as we do that, people will find the same hope that we are all so grateful for having once discovered!
To conclude: 3 things I believe we are to do with an attitude of hope:
- In as much as we are able, we must take care of our own families. We must help our children to know right from wrong, and to grow with a value system that loves God, gives grace to others and serves others. High moral values protect people from hurt and brokenness. Importantly, we must take responsibility to educate our own children – while lending them to public education where it is useful to us (like for Math and Science – but maybe not so much for philosophy, history if it becomes a tool for imposing a worldview, or regarding made up views of morality). This is a priority.
- We must confidently and proactively engage with the democratic process. This is an inconvenience to most of us. It feels like an ‘interruption’ to our quiet and happy lives – but this is the right and necessary thing to do. I believe this is something for us all to engage with – but not something that we can allow to control our daily emotions.
- We must then engage with the world around us, with the sleeves rolled up and our hands getting dirty, loving people without condition, bringing the hope of Christ. This – like family, is a great priority.