My mind has been turning in recent weeks to the situation in Europe, where democratically elected governments are being charged by their constituencies to spend more money, increasing the drain on the public purse in a climate of contraction and economic decline. And to Egypt, where the people have been voting for more sharia, and more radical Islam. There poverty and starvation will be the result; and in Europe there will be societal breakdown and growing civil conflict as people struggle to survive with inflated expectations in failing economies.
Is democracy always a Good Thing? Governments are as ‘good’ as the people who elect them. If a nation chooses to put their heads in the sand, they will elect politicians without vision.
I have also been reflecting that a generation raised with a belief in their entitlement to prosperity and progress —as is the case in much of the West—will not do failure, restraint, lack and poverty well. Their demise could be ugly as they give way to those who are leaner, hungrier, and therefore more reality-based.
Also, if a nation has taught itself that the will of the people must always be right, both morally and prudentially, and that the ‘might’ of the ballot box provides a moral mandate, as well as a political one, then such a nation is at risk of losing their spiritual and moral compass: “We voted for it, so it must be good”. Hitler’s democratic election to power and mass popular appeal did not make his vision righteous. If it is true that thousands of individuals in western societies find cannibalism somehow appealing (see here), this does not make their preference a “minority right”.
The fact that freedom to choose things for oneself is a human right does not guarantee that when people make choices they will be morally “right”, even when exercised in vast numbers through the ballot box.
Political success is not a mark of being in the right. Part of the Christian calling is to speak truth to power—including the power of the ballot box. We must be courageous to speak out on the issues facing our nation, even if what we have to say runs against the tide of popular opinion.
There are dark and challenging days ahead for the nations, with storm clouds of rolling economic collapses and moral disorientation gathering overhead. This is not an easy era to be born into.
All the more reason to be clear and bold about what we believe in, and what Christ has called us to stand for, lest by failng to stand, we fall.