It’s election time.
I have to be honest: I feel really conflicted at moments like these. There are so many factors to consider! Do I vote based on local representative or party leader? Do I vote for a smaller party that better embodies my ideals, or a larger party that is more likely to win?
Then there’s the questions of faith: How do I express my hope as a citizen of God’s kingdom in the midst of the compromises and contradictions of our current political system? Are there issues that matter more or less to the heart of God?
One of my personal heroes, Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement, made a conscientious decision not to vote. She was convinced that spending election day in prayer and fasting, together with spending every day in welcoming the poor, living simply, tending the earth, and boldly protesting injustice, was a far more radical and effective way to transform the world than the ballot box.
Was she right? I’ll let you decide. But what I hear in her life – what echoes back from the life of Jesus himself – is this: Don’t put your hope in political leaders. In their jockeying for power, their alignments with particular ideologies, their empty promises and bids for popularity, they will fail you.
Rather, become the hope.
So this Tuesday, go ahead and vote with your ballot. Vote for a representative and a party which, as far as you can see, will act for the genuine well-being of the planet. Vote for whoever you think will honestly listen and courageously respond to those facing poverty, marginalization, and injustice. Our leadership, their priorities, their vision, their policies – these things matter.
Then Wednesday, vote by planting a garden.
On Thursday, vote by befriending a stranger.
On Friday, vote by organizing to divest your faith community from fossil fuels.
Every day keep voting. Opt with your whole life for a future in which every person and every creature can flourish on God’s green earth. And while your hopes for political change may die again and again, the Spirit will breathe new life to creation through the seeds of love and responsibility you have sown.
Jason Wood is a founding member of Earthkeepers, now working as the Political Action lead. He manages Red Clover Farm in the Downtown Eastside, and he and his wife Anna worship with St. Brigid’s, an Anglican church in downtown Vancouver.
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(If you’re wondering where the main provincial parties stand on the issue of climate justice, check out this helpful primer by Earthkeeper Mitchell Ferreira, or this climate score card, published by West Coast Environmental Law).