The Politics of the Our Father

As the election season comes in full force, social media is now filled with lively discussions and arguments over political choices. The politics in the Philippines has never been this polarized. In my view, there is a greater danger of class division because of excessive swings of political leanings. Filipinos do not just vote by mind, but by heart. Their political choices are swayed by the cultural values of loyalty (‘utang na loob’) and even fandom. Because of this, there emerges these days the class of those who are derogatorily called ‘elitists’ – Filipinos seen to be intelligent and morally upright; and the ‘mass mob’ – Filipinos who have pent up frustration and anger at the “system” and “establishment” they fall back to blind devotion and rebelliousness against logic bordering at fanaticism.

In this atmosphere and political drama I cannot help but remember the words of St. John Bosco, when found in a political climate like ours was asked which party he adheres to. The prudent saint replied, “the politics of the Our Father”. Don Bosco focused his sight, not on the warring ideologies and political strategies of man, but on the higher order of things – that of the Kingdom of God.

The politics of the Our Father is centered in the opening address of the Lord’s prayer. It is a recognition of the imminent domain of God in everything and that this God is above all a Father and all of us are brothers and sisters. This echoes Pope Francis’ reminder of fraternity and solidarity – two things we often forget in the heat of political discussion. There should be no greater importance in politics than the ultimate good of the human family, the welfare of the downtrodden, and the dignity of the human person. Whenever I read through social media posts, comments, and memes, I see Christians who are supposed to be brothers and sisters cutting each others throats for the sake of their political beliefs.

True, each citizen should exercise his or her political rights and express their political convictions, but let us not lose sight of why we have politics in the first place. We are not our political beliefs alone. We are first and foremost members of the same family who wish to govern ourselves in a moral and humanistic way, and whatever is humanistic is very much Godly.

A parting thought: the Church should not be relegated to “religious things” alone. She retains her right to join the dialogue on morality and human issues. Let us listen to her guidance when we vote and choose. However, we must remember that the Church should never have an “official candidate” nor should side with any political party. She must side with humanity alone. When religious personages express their political leanings, it is their personal opinion proper to their rights as a citizen of this country, but should never be construed as an official stand of the Church. You may or may not agree with them, and that remains alright.

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