I was asked to write a short about 500 words piece for a local Christian magazine. I managed to squeeze out the following words đź™‚ I used it as an opening for a compilation learning guide for my church and any one interested here … Who would Jesus Vote for in Elections 2008 Malaysia? Feel free to download it and share it with others.
8th of March 2008 is an exciting day. It’s International Woman’s Day. It’s Datuk Sami Vellu’s birthday. It’s my daughter’s 3 year old birthday. And it’s Election Day for Malaysians. I was seriously humoured when I saw the Mak Bedah from the Women’s Candidacy Initiative (WCI) looking for a candidate to nominate as an educational effort to the public on women’s issues. Talking with my friend who services our photocopy machine has awakened me to the heart issues boiling in his community made public by HINDRAF. Like it or not, with all the promises made by the politicians, I constantly wonder what kind of environment will my little Elysia and her brothers grow into in the next 4 years or 40 years.
So, for those who are voting, who should we vote for? And what should be on our minds when we cast our vote? Some Christians might say, “how you vote isn’t going to change the world, but how you live.” Good point . I used to think that way and it does sound right. Surely putting our faith in politics to sort out our world’s problems is misguided. Jesus didn’t come to start a political party. Apostle Paul wrote about submitting to the government in Romans 13. So, perhaps we should just pray. Perhaps.
But then, in Mary’s song in opening chapters of the Gospel of Luke, the vision of the Kingdom of God moves with the heartbeat of the child in her womb:
“His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.”
The birth of Jesus sowed seeds of change which surely involves changed individual lives, but also the way people relate to one another in the world. The way apostle Paul handled the case of Onesimus in the letter to Philemon is socially and politically subversive. So, there is more than meets the eye when we try to find guidance on politics in the Bible.
Politics is one of the ways we relate to each other – it’s here to stay, at least until the final chapters of history wrap up. As long as I’m still living in this world, I realized that “how I vote” will send a message to those who are aspiring to fulfil their promises of good governance the kind of values they should be operating with. It also reminds me to keep my end of the bargain in living up to the expectations I have on them. A more informed, prayerful, discerning vote reflects the changes in me, and how I want to live – mercy, justice, and humility are good starting points to echo Prophet Micah 6:8. These are also the words resonating in my heart when I cast my vote, and the lens which I view the candidates (as well as the political parties they represent).
So, while I won’t put all my eggs in the basket of political promises of political parties. Change in Malaysia involves more than politics, but change in Malaysia cannot ignore the political processes and the environment where these changes need to happen.
So, I’m ready to drive to the polling station on that day. It’s one vote. At least to me, I want to make it count – for equality and the dignity of all, for the marginalized and the poor, and for the future of our children. That’s where I see then heart of Jesus. That’s what will guide my vote, as a Christ-follower, that’s where I stand I can do no other.