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.