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Honest Politics

February 27, 2022

“You can’t use legal cover to mask a moral failure.”

Matthew 5.32, The Message Translation

This quote is taken from the famous Sermon on the Mount. This entire chapter stood out to me in a new way, because in my attempts to thwart my general frustrations of authority, which has now funneled into religion as well, I, in a sort of desperation, went to a controversial translation of the Bible. As I fearlessly tread new waters in my faith, and as I defy the born-again Christians who openly attack this translation, I read scripture as though for the first time, and that newness that I have been craving has come to me, as I openly hope for spiritual recovery and strength through Christ.

In this particular teaching, Jesus is correcting people who have been divorcing in order to sleep with new people, thinking that they have skirted around the law forbidding adultery. As with all scripture though, it can easily be relatable to a current or personal situation, and I think about the squashing of the Canadian protests, using a legal cover.

When a Prime Minster dripping in scandal used brute force and called upon extraordinary and elite powers to silence an opposing voice to the one-sided narrative of the pandemic, that for the first time in years finally cried out, organizers were arrested and denied bail. Days later Russia attacked Ukraine, social media turned its head, and once again, the protesters voices were snuffed out.

Something I didn’t know about Canadian politics, or forgot after taking a few classes in post-secondary education, is that like the States, we too have a Senate. It’s an interesting chambers where members are there by reward or punishment, and these public servants are actually the ones who have the final say in whether or not a law get passed. The reason why the Senate is generally out of sight and out of mind, is because when laws get passed in Parliament, they tend to stay passed.

But after the Emergencies Act passed in the House of Commons, a brave senator questioned the necessity of this extreme measure. The Emergencies Act was generally a slim pass, with speculation that the NDP only voted for it because they couldn’t afford another election. The obnoxious hashtag trending on Twitter the next day, #trudeauwasright, once again showed the fallacy of the mob mentality, because unbeknownst to the average citizen, there was debate about the law in the Senate after it passed in the lower house. A couple of days later, Trudeau made an announcement that the Act was no longer necessary, that he accomplished what he needed with it after all; and so he revoked it. Again, people acting suspiciously to avoid losing their jobs.

This brings us back to the Sermon on the Mount. Reading this chapter with a translation that is so different from all of the other versions, which are so homogenous, not only shows me a new side of Jesus’ teachings as I read again, this time with a broken heart and spirit, it also reminds me how even my understanding of my faith has been one-sided, with only one narrative. It makes me now wonder how many people really transform their lives through the teachings of Jesus, or if it’s even possible to when truth is stifled with censorship and with so many voices obstinately saying the exact same thing. Just like how so many people have been hurt and betrayed in this pandemic, because of this same foolish method of denying and shutting down conversations.

It is possible to have honest institutions. Jesus has shown us ways to overcome the selfishness and the fears that tend to overcome us and lead to behaviours that keeps us small and grasping for securities that only hurt ourselves and others. There is freedom in getting honest, because in that honesty we develop the confidence to live openly. The freedom and the lightheartedness and the connection and support that we seek does not come in trying to control others through laws or narratives – it comes from being open.

Tenor Robert Breault said, “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” This is one of the wisest quotes I’ve ever heard. I have learnt that wisdom doesn’t come from studying and meditating and denying the flesh – it comes from healing through brokenness, and then moving forward. This is why Jesus started his ministry speaking directly to this, because once we understand that we will be safe in our hardships and in our pain, we will be fully free.

Alcoholic Anonymous founder Bill W. said that humility is paid with the price of pain. Once we enter this new world of humility, we start asking what we can give, instead of what we can take. We ask how we can serve, instead of how we can be adored. Most of our leaders throughout history have lacked this humility, but it’s not too late. Al Anon taught me to “Let it begin with me.” I am the centre of my own world, and in my world it is fair, and just, and brave, and honest. On that foundation, I am secure in myself, and that gives me the space to be hopeful in new humble leaders to come.

Canadian Senate

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