Politics and the Year of Mercy

- Fr. Roy Cimagala - The Freeman

Politics and mercy can and should be together. Contrary to what many people may think, politics is in great need of mercy, otherwise it has no other alternative but to go to the dogs.

It should never be thought of as an anything-goes affair, an open field for all kinds of shenanigans to take place. We need to break away from that mindset, for the simple reason that it does us no good, it corrupts us as a person and as a people, it can only generate a vicious cycle of evils.

When politics is merciless, one evil generates another which reinforces the former that again spawns another evil, and so on and so forth, until the whole atmosphere is completely polluted and poisoned. The worst thing that can happen is when this unfortunate state of affairs becomes normal to us.

Just like any human endeavor, politics should be done in the framework of charity and mercy. Mind you, that framework does not undermine the realism we need to have when doing politics. On the contrary, it enhances such realism, but prevents it from deteriorating into a heartless and inhuman activity. We need to explode the myth that charity and mercy would hinder the workings of politics.

With mercy, our politics can remain human and with a heart, capable of seeing things with utmost objectivity and realism, and with the proper priorities preserved and defended. Charity and mercy can only sharpen our desire for truth, justice and the common good, without taking immoral and illegal short-cuts.

What good does a general political culture of bashing, mudslinging and fault-finding do? If that's our idea of being objective and realistic, we as a people are still light-years away from the spirit of Christ whom most of us profess to believe and follow. Put in another way, we would seem to be in the primitive stage yet as a people insofar as politics is concerned.

Christ precisely was undeterred by sin and the many miseries of men. In fact, sin and the human miseries made him to be most solicitous of us, showering us with an abundance of his mercy.

What only got his goat was the self-righteousness of some people who were quick to judge others, to find fault in them, even if they themselves have their own shortcomings and other worse things.

This self-righteousness is precisely what is most opposed to the spirit of Christ. It's not men's sins, weaknesses and other miseries. This self-righteousness is an attempt to make oneself his own god, his own creator and lawgiver.

Now that we are in the Year of Mercy, as declared by Pope Francis, let us try our best to be kind, compassionate and understanding with the others, including the politicians, especially those with whom we are at odds.

After overcoming as soon as possible our initial automatic reaction of disgust, disappointment and disapproval when we see the defects and alleged crimes of politicians, let us pray for them and see how we can help them. This is the Christian way.

Let us see instead their qualities and accomplishments to see if they deserve our vote. If in the end, we decide not to vote for them, then let's make that decision without falling into lack of charity and mercy.

If we feel that they have to answer for their alleged crimes so that the requirements of justice can be met, then let's do so without being uncharitable and unmerciful.

In this way, our political life and culture would be cleansed of impurities that only block the proper political effort to pursue our common good. The Year of Mercy can be a good occasion to make a good, if not a quantum, leap in the quality of our politics.

Let's hope that we can realize more deeply that being uncharitable and unmerciful in our political life can do a great harm to us as a people. It is what can constitute as a big obstacle to our true development and progress, since it harms our soul much more than our body. It strikes us at the most essential part of our life.

Everyone of us should make a deep examination of conscience if only to do some adjustments in our attitude and practice of politics. Special mention should be given to the politicians themselves and to the media who play a crucial role in this field.

Many of us may consider this a pipe dream. But let's realize that the pursuit for truth, justice and the common good starts with a dream that is continually worked on until the dream becomes a reality.

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