One reason why I have never gone into politics – despite the interest I have in it – is that governing a country is a damned difficult job. It requires something in very short supply these days: wisdom.
The problem comes with developing policy and knowing what actions to take to assure that country is governed wisely. When you enact a policy on this or that, there will always be repercussions – often unexpected, but nevertheless predictable enough if the policy is wisely and thoroughly thought through before hand. The analogy doesn’t quite work, but I have often thought of “the system” as a balloon: you poke it here, and it bulges there.
One example would be the proposed mining tax which brought Kevin Rudd down as Prime Minister in 2010. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but it had repurcussions that not even Kevin anticipated. Another would be the free insulation policy that Kevin’s government brought in – and which also brought in a lot of unskilled, untrained, and unscrupulous installers, with the result that there where several deaths involved in the process of and as a result of faulty installations. It too seemed like a good idea at the time…
A current example would be the knee-jerk response to the ABC Four Corners expose on the live-stock trade with Indonesia. Howls of protests at the treatment of the cattle in the Indonesian abattoirs resulted in the Government bending to popular pressure and suddenly and completely halting the trade. A big win for the animal’s rights activists, but a big loss in other areas. Not only were many Australians suddenly without a livelihood, but the poorest of the poor in Indonesia were suddenly reduced to destitution (see this article in today’s Age).
So the animals win, and the human beings loose. But wait, not even the animals win, as one stock owner had to face the possibility of having to shoot 3,000 head of cattle because he had no feed for them and he had no buyer for them. I have been in a situation during drought on my own family’s farm when my father had to start shooting sheep (because the price for sheep fell so low, it would mean selling them would actually cost us money). My father is one of the most humane farmers I know – he really cares for his animals – and that experience was certainly a low point in his whole life as a farmer.
Another, much greater threat, is facing societies in the western world: the legal redefinition of marriage to include same-sex unions. I wonder if one day we will all look back and say “It seemed like a great idea at the time…”? For 10 reasons why this is a very, VERY bad idea, see Jeff Mirus’ comment here on CatholicCulture.org.
I remember as a child prayers for our Queen and governors that they may be “granted wisdom” to rule rightly and justly. When did you last hear an elected goverment official or politician described as “wise”? Do we still even expect “wisdom” of our governments? It seems to me that popular democratic government structures are in fact structured in such a way as to preclude truly wise government. The pressure is on to do what is popular, what is current, what “seems like a good idea at the time”, rather than to sit down and have a really good think about the consequences of the policies they are pursuing.
What a difference it would make if God really were to grant our prayer, and give us “wise” governors…
Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, we pray for our Queen and the Royal Family; The members of Parliament and all in authority; that they may govern our country with wisdom and understanding and for the good of your Church and all people. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.