December 21, 2012 / Issue Volume 24, Number 2, Fall 2012 / Thought to Action

The Real Work of Politics

By Brie Tarras

Brie Tarras

Brie Tarras is in the third year of the Master of Christian Studies, concentrating in Spiritual Theology. She is also an intern with the Marketplace Institute, focusing on society and politics.

This is not meant to be a to-do list, but a series of suggestions that might help in moving us to engage politically. Have other ideas? Share them in the comments below!

Allegiance. Our highest calling is always to God, not country.

  • be aware of the difference between nationalism and religion
  • since living well means that your primary allegiance will be to the work of God within the world, encourage that work within your nation
  • during elections, be wary of religious authorities who tell you to vote for a specific party: party policies are never black and white, and church leaders should leave it up to your individual conscience and intellect to discern whom to support

Formation. Our action naturally emerges from how we are formed.

  • read your Bible
  • attend church and let its liturgy (every church has a liturgy of sorts) re-focus you on Christ
  • learn to discuss, not argue, with people who hold other points of view
  • be attentive to ways that culture is shaping who you are, and decide if that influence is worth your attention
  • learn to love; love is what changes things 

Critical engagement. Our political voice is one of many; speaking thoughtfully is an integral part of democracy. If we don’t engage, someone else will do it for us.

  • vote and encourage your friends and families to vote
  • volunteer in a political office or work as an elections official
  • be well-informed and respectfully question authorities within your own party affiliation
  • get your news from a number of different sources: try the National Post and the Globe and Mail; see what the BBC has to say
  • join an organization that’s working for change on a policy issue that you’re passionate about (or start your own organization!)

Faithfulness in your professional work. According to Ross Douthat, politics gets accomplished during the day-to-day business of sitting on committees, passing laws, and developing policy. If you work in government, the public service, the education sector, or any profession that has an influence on the public square, your day-to-day activities have an impact.

  • Carry out your daily tasks with diligence, honesty, and conscientiousness
  • Play the role of mediator and peacemaker when disputes arise
  • Speak up in the face of injustice, and help the one who’s been wronged
  • Initiate policy changes when the quality of your work environment, or the services you provide, requires improvement
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