They have been all over town these last few weeks: posters advertising political parties. At the same time, we’re being inundated with all the usual oneliners and slogans through all sorts of media channels. After all, the municipal elections will be upon us soon.
For some people, seeing the posters or hearing the sound bites is the closest they will come to being involved in the elections, while others do wish to vote so as to exert some influence on what goes on in their city. As for me, I often wonder during election time how much influence my vote will end up having. I also wonder if I might be able to exert some influence in some other way – preferably without turning into one of those angry people who don’t vote as an act of protest and who have an antipathy for democracy.
When I look at the posters, I’m always struck by how prominently the parties’ leaders are depicted in them. In itself, this is all right; it’s good to have a mental image of the person you are considering voting for. Even so, it will then occur to me that in a way, it is quite strange to entrust your vote to someone you’ve only seen on a large piece of paper and may have heard say a few things somewhere at some point. Of course, we don’t really know these people at all.
I also wondered whom I would entrust my vote to – someone who is not a politician but did set an example that can be followed. Which is how I arrived at Jesus, even though I have no idea what he looked like. That said, I do know enough about his life and ideas, from reading the Bible, that I would not have hesitated to vote for him if he had been a candidate in Rotterdam’s municipal elections.
I’m not sure whether Jesus would have come up with a slogan he would have distributed across the city – perhaps something along the lines of, “Let my voters come to me” – but personally, I think Neil Armstrong’s words are an apt description of his methods: “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Jesus had global ambitions but took baby steps first. For instance, he got in touch with the riff-raff of his society and forgave his enemies, and ended up giving his life for mankind.
Please rest assured that I’m not writing this to promote a party with Christian values. However, I am writing this to promote using Jesus’ intention – i.e. encouraging people to do as he did, so that societies can change in a way from which everyone will benefit – as guidance when you cast your vote.
The great thing about that is that you will still vote for a political party, while at the same time being more likely to exert actual influence on our city. Because just imagine what would happen if every Rotterdammer considered his fellow man more important than himself!
Marnix ‘t Hart studies Philosophy at the EUR