Most Canadians are familiar with “Peace, order and good government,” albeit the phrase stems from the British North America Act of 1867, now called Constitution Act, 1867. We’re thankful for freedoms enjoyed by citizens in many countries, also here. However, I believe the degree of freedoms and democracy in Canada is often overstated. Only a few examples here, but we’re reckoning with living in a pluralist society, meaning that diverse ethnic, religious, or social groups participate within the confines of a common civilization, perhaps with their special interest and different expressions, ways to life. We might not yet be so familiar or practiced with justice, not just “us.”
Faith brings people into service, and into communities. This is an immense, also public, value. Scripture teaches our struggle isn’t with or against flesh and blood but with powers and spiritual forces. We might not always be aware.
We pride ourselves on “equality” of the vote. (Leaving aside that not till late 1960s could all Canadians vote all levels of government, and forms of voter suppression still surface, though they can be legally challenged.) But does everyone’s vote “count the same,” have equal value? How democratic is a first-past-the-post system in which –BC 2020-- a party with about 48% of votes can win 65% of seats, a “majority” government? What, functionally, is the value of decision by 52% of voting-eligible voters who cast ballots against it?
Or, mull Corporate Mapping Project’s finding 19,517 lobbying contacts between fossil fuel industry and BC public officials --averaging 14 contacts per business day-- from 2010 -2016. Consider the extent also of fossil capitalism’s battle for hearts and minds throughout society with funds directed --often through private foundations-- to policy-planning groups, political parties, lobbies and industry groups, universities, research centers, charitable and community organizations, families and households, other educational and religious institutions, and media messaging, much social media. The networking enables exerting influence by participating in governance of institutions often assumed to be independent of big business. These expressions of concentrated economic power reaching into and capturing the public sphere are weighty, and their disproportionate sway another example that “all of life is religion.”
Has capitalism co-opted Christianity? What’s the mark on religious freedom when societally we’ve subscribed to a failing “ideal” that in housing we mortgage 20-30 years of life to a financial institution, it getting first dibs on our income? What’s the effect on firstfruits giving? On increasingly disparate distribution of wealth?
There are alternatives. We could choose proportional representation. Or ranked choice voting linked to a majority. Stronger legislation regarding political “donations,” lobbying, addressing that not all current corruption is illegal. A nearby church chose to pay off each other’s mortgages one by one. Other Christians too, also in your church, opt for shaping good alternatives in housing. We can consider together, and personally, how to live faithfully, currently. We cannot serve God and mammon. The Spirit beckons, stirs, enables. “I am doing a new thing.” Don’t put your confidence in princes.