My abiding memory of the recent elections here will be the bewildering amount of posters that festooned our streets with names of candidates mostly unfamiliar to me, putting their names forward in the local and European elections. Light pole after light pole were draped with air-brushed hopefuls each one trying to outdo the other in capturing that ‘see how sincere I am’ look, a kind of political pout that indicates savvy, soundness and saintliness all rolled into one electable package ! In truth, judging by the appearance of some of the candidates they should have more appropriately hung in the Wanted section of the local Garda station ! The optics aside this was an electoral outing that was savoured by many of the citizenry as their first chance to register their anger and dismay at the response of our governing parties to the economic crises. As a result the Fianna Fail / Green alliance suffered heavy losses across the board with the Greens being particularly decimated. The net winners were the Fine Gael and Labour parties with two spectacular results from independent socialists. Sinn Fein held their own while Declan Ganley’s new pan European grouping, Libertas suffered meltdown. The Libertas result hit home as a good friend of mine had signed up with them after the demise of the Progressive Democrats , and as a result of these two debacles he is fast developing a reputation as a party-pooper ! Politics is such a grave business you need to have a laugh.
Now the call is for a General Election where the hope is that the present Government incumbents will be ousted and a new crew installed. It seems that a lot of the anger out there is borne by people’s genuine frustration at the soaring cost of living and the increased calls being made on diminishing wages, as well as the growing number (1000 a day) being added to the unemployment ranks. It’s sad if our hope for justice and equality solely rests with the politicians as these are people like ourselves with all our strengths and weaknesses. As we read the Gospels our sights are raised to the example of Jesus who not only spoke ‘truth’ but exemplified it in a perfect life. His is the Way of victory and power which uniquely offers real answers to the dilemmas of the human heart. Interestingly when confronted with the question of Political responsibility and God accountability Jesus simply replied, “ Give to Caesar those things that are Caesar’s ,and give to God those things that are God‘s ” (Matthew 22:21) Of course everything is God’s and even governments sit beneath His throne, how much we now need as individuals to vote for our ‘Caesars’ and devote our hearts to the living God. Political activism has its place and I commend all those who have gone through the process and become elected officials but our real and abiding hope for change rests with another, the Holy Spirit of God. As we are changed into the likeness of our Master the world will sit up and see that we are marching to the beat of a different drum.