I’m writing this on Thursday as an exit poll has just predicted a Conservative win which may lead to a hung parliament. By the time this post is published on Saturday, we’ll know who is supposed to be running the country… Or if no-one is…
Earlier today – Thursday – for the first time in my life, I took advantage of my right to spoil my ballot paper. Of the five political parties on our local ballot, I rejected all of them.
The government doesn’t run my life and I hope you realise it doesn’t run yours either. Scottish Independence, BREXIT, the economy, they might impact our lives, but they do not determine our future.
In Scotland, I understand the desire to declare independence and control our future as a nation – I wrote the story of how Scotland became independent after all – but regardless of whether Scotland was independent or not, each of us would still be solely responsible for what that future is like. Independence would not be a miracle cure.
Much was made of the magic money tree during the campaigning in this 2017 election. It seems likely that fears over what would happen to Scotland’s economy lost the first Independence Referendum. Yet, while banks may threaten to jump ship and industry bluster about pulling out, the fact remains that in an independent Scotland, each adult would still be an economic force, both earning and spending. We would still need jobs, would still pay taxes and even if some business did abandon us, we would still be able to attract other banks and other industry and whatever we needed to manage our economy.
Yet so many were afraid and put their trust in the UK government.
In Scotland, twice now, a majority has voted to turn away from independence, first from the UK and then from Europe. Yet a sizable minority of my fellow countrymen took a contrary position, rejecting union with the UK while they sought to remain governed in large part by Europe. (Ironically, all the arguments both for and against Scottish Independence could be applied to BREXIT…)
Most of us, it seems, desperately want a government in some location, to run our lives for us. To make decisions that we don’t understand or are overwhelmed by.
I’ve been reading the book of First Samuel recently. Israel was originally intended to be a theocracy, governed ultimately by God and managed on a daily basis by prophets and judges. But the people grew jealous of the neighbouring tribes who had kings to lead them. They didn’t trust the judges (and to give them their due, some of those judges were utterly corrupt.) Eventually they rejected both the judges and God in favour of a king.
I believe we were meant for more than being governed by other people. That God created us with the capacity to rule. Yet to rule, even in our small sphere of influence, takes great courage. It’s much easier to hand off to someone else that we can then blame when they get it wrong.
This week Heather Tomlinson wrote an article on Why Christians need to stop blaming the government for everything. Of course people of every faith and none blame their government. The real challenge though is to stop blaming government and start taking responsibility for our own lives. To seek to stop living off of someone else’s charity, to be the provider for others, to be the carer, the defender in our communities.
While I believe God wants us to seek his help and protection, I also believe he made us to govern ourselves. Will you live as God intended you to, or will you let others run your life?