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Now that the votes are counted

2015-05-11 10:24

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We have just finished a General Election. The votes are counted and the Prime Minister has paid the customary courtesy visit to the Queen to inform her of the result – which she will already know because of her own access to news sources. The leaders of three political Parties have gallantly fallen on their proverbial swords so that others might take their places.

 Yet I would suggest that, whatever its structure, the newly-elected Parliament would be advised to follow the words of the then Cardinal Bergoglio of Buenos Aires in 2003: “Every economic, political, social, or religious project involves the inclusion or exclusion of the wounded lying on the side of the road. Each day, each of us faces the choice of being a Good Samaritan or an indifferent bystander.”

 There was a Government Minister (not in this country) whose behaviour towards me was impeccable – but I saw him reduce to a quivering wreck a poor man whose only fault was to take the wrong flight of stairs. When we entrust our vote and our country to our politicians, we expect them to demonstrate a high degree of personal integrity and compassion.

 I was once privileged to work alongside a former Zambian Minister of Health and thereby encountered true greatness. A doctor, he served his patients to the limits of his considerable ability, only charging those who could pay and treating the poor for free. “I’d treat everybody for nothing, but I have my family to feed”, he remarked. His patients frequently declared, “I knew my health was improving when Dr Kaunda finally left my bedside and went home for a meal.”

 As it plans for the future, what would happen if our Government were to place, as its top priority, the Beatitudes? Wouldn’t everything else fall into place? 

 To quote Pope Francis, "Every man and woman who assumes the responsibility of governing should ask themselves these two questions: Do I love my people, so that I may better serve them? And am I humble enough to hear the opinions of others so as to choose the best way of governing? If they do not ask themselves these questions, they will not govern well.

 “Let us pray for leaders, that they govern us well. That they bring our homeland, our nations, our world, forward, to achieve peace and the common good.”

Sr Janet Fearns

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