Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Nolite Confidere in Principibus

That is, ‘Do not put your trust in princes’ –Psalm 146:3 (145:2 in the Vulgate). ‘Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help. When their breath departs, they return to the earth; on that very day their plans perish’.

These words were going through my mind on Saturday night as I saw the election results. One of our ‘princes’ – John Howard – has left the scene to be replaced by our new ‘prince’ - Kevin Rudd. The prayers of our little congregation are with our new Prime Minister, of course, just as they were with our old one. But neither man, thank God, has been or will be the Saviour of our Nation.

On Saturday night, as I heard the crowds cheering, I got to thinking about changes in my experience - and in my understanding - of political debate. In recent years I’ve grown less eager to hear (from myself and others) politicians (of any political stripe) vilified. I welcome (and enjoy) vigorous discussion on the merits (or otherwise) of political policy and ideas, but when conversation descends into name-calling and personal attacks on politicians it gets me down. I can’t help feel that such conversation is a display of a lack of faith in God – that is, I can't help feeling that when faith in God weakens then we have to find scapegoats other than the Lamb of God - and so I hear vilification of politicians, from myself or others, as reluctance to take our anger and frustration to the One who is ultimately responsible: God.

But on Saturday night I heard the crowds not simply cheering, but chanting the name of at least one politician. And this disturbed me more than any of the abuse I have heard poured on any politician. Personal attacks on politicians I can understand, even if it gets me down. But chanting the name of a politician?

Nolite confidere in principibus. It's my suggested motto for election nights.


Schütz said...

See Leunig today: http://www.theage.com.au/ffximage/2007/11/28/rg_cartoon_gallery__564x400,0.jpg

I do hope the true believers are not too disappointed with the reality they have elected.

Steve L said...

Fraser - confession time.

I once chanted the name of a politician. You may have been there - it was 1991, the venue was the Sydney Opera House, and the politicians name was Nelson Mandela.

[Not that we have an Australian politician of that calibre.]

I understand where you are coming from, but personally I'm less bothered by chants for a politician than the name calling against one. At the risk of sounding flippant, it's like how I follow my football team. I'm happy to cheer for my team (and chant the name of my favourite players) but when I find myself deriding the opposition team or denigrating their players I wonder what this says about me.

Now off to start one of these bloggy things for myself.

Fraser Pearce said...

Steve Loffler?

I also was at the Opera house seeing Mandella in 1991! I didn't go with you, did I?

The thing I most remember was that the Trade Union king pin who introduced Mandella had a pronounced Prussian R. In a pause in his speech, someone from the crowd yelled out, very loudly, "Release Roderick!"

I think the tribalism of spectator sport is one of it's very appeals - although it can get ugly. I guess I'm more sensitive to tribalism in politics, and even more sensitive to tribalism in religion, since these last two human realities can move people to the heights but also to the depths. Corruptio optima pessima est. And all that.

But I can't imagine you picking up a crow bar or planting a bomb because someone chanted a different pollies name.

Being hit because you are wearing a crows scarf, however - I can imagine that.

Fraser Pearce said...

Sorry: its very appeals!

Steve L said...

You've picked through my secret identity ;)

I can't remember if I went with you in 1991, or if we discussed it later. I was pretty sure you were there though.

Funnily enough, I think it was 1991 (though it could have been 1990) when I met our now former PM at St Mark's Epping.

John from Conn said...

End a life time of floating abstractions. AynRand.org for some clarity people.

John from Conn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.