By Philip Freier
2 February 2022
The signs of 2022 being an election year at the federal level will only amplify over the coming weeks and months. We need to be grateful that we have the freedom to decide who leads us as a nation and that we have an influence on the policies that will be implemented over the next parliamentary term. Not all in our world are as fortunate as us in having this freedom.
I welcome the opportunity for parties to articulate policy positions and for citizens to measure these policies against their own vision for our society. Despite the commonly shared human failings I think that we have politicians in our nation who generally want to serve the public good as they see it and carry out their demanding roles with more courage and grace than is sometimes conceded. In saying this, I urge all who aspire to elected office to be particularly careful in their dealings with an understandably anxious electorate.
The cumulative effect of almost two years of the COVID pandemic has been wearing in different ways on all of us. The windows of optimism, fuelled by high vaccination rates, that we started to see opening before Christmas quickly exposed the dark clouds of the Omicron variant. The freedom to risk calculation certainly came back into the awareness of our daily lives with a rush in the new year. With ballooning numbers of cases many of us personally know people who have become infected. Both the long run of these troubles and the recent turn of events have led to polarised positions that are sometimes expressed with excessive sharpness. Social media has provided a platform for such hard views to gain wider circulation.
It will be tempting, I’m sure, for our federal election campaign to become another version of the harsh polarisation that we all know. I hope it won’t be like that as I suspect that the lasting consequences of such a campaign would be harmful for our nation. Our prayers are important in these times. It is natural for any leader to feel inadequate when faced with unknown challenges. Moses certainly responds in that way when he receives the call from God to lead his people to freedom. “Who am I” asks God “that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3.11). Moses seeks exemption from the call on the grounds of his own ineptitude, saying: “I have never been eloquent … but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue” (Exodus 4.10). In despair he seeks a means of personal escape: “O my Lord, please send someone else” (Exodus 4.13).
There is something very refreshing, and I think instructive to our contemporary world about Moses’ response and his recognition that he can only carry out his mission through the grace of God. I would like to see more of this response in the language of our own national political discourse and less tapping into the anxiety of our present uncertain times. Keep strong in the faith of Christ and prayerful for all that lies ahead of us.