via Failed politics, false religion March 12, 2014 by Fr Oskar Wermter SJ
Public relations managers of political leaders have been trying again and again to boost their bosses’ image and save them from political ruin by calling them divine and God-like.
They assume that no one can oppose or contradict a leader who has God on his side. It would be like opposing God Himself. This semi-divine status is to confirm that leader in his position once and for all, make him unassailable and give him absolute power; in other words, make him a tyrant and dictator. It is totally undemocratic.
A leader chosen by the people is human and therefore prone to commit errors. If he fails to fulfil the task the people have given him, he should go.
Using the name of God for political propaganda is also bad religion (cf Exodus 20:7: “You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain”). Such a politician does not respect God as supreme, but subordinates Him to his own interests as a mere tool. This is blasphemy. It is an insult.
A politician may claim he possesses “all the kingdoms of the world” given to him by divine power, making him almighty (Luke 4:5; Mt 4:8). He is wrong: it is not God, but Satan, the evil one, who gives unlimited power.
Beware of promises of great wealth, it was the Evil One who tried to tempt Jesus that way. He was unmasked and chased away.
There have been leaders boasting that they had been chosen by God or were ruling “by the grace of God”. In their arrogance they had little respect for human life and used their young people as “cannon fodder” in needless, wasteful wars.
If we want to think of our leaders at all in religious terms, then we want God-fearing, humble men and women, people who strive “to do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly with their God” (Micah 6:8).
They do not intimidate people by claiming that their politics is divinely ordained and that therefore no one must ever critically call them into question. Quite the opposite, they are aware of the complexity of the real world and therefore listen to advice and even criticism.
True leaders listen to conscience, an inner voice informed by the Word of God, before they make decisions. Conscience reminds them how precious every human being is. Not only those that vote for them, but even those who don’t.
It is an indication of the depth of the moral and spiritual decay in our country that even religion has gone bad. Those propagandistic praise singers of failed leaders make use of the name of God in a last bid to save them from ruin and total rejection by the voting citizens, owners of the country.
Others living in fear of total bankruptcy fantasise about divine miracles that are to restore our good fortunes and prosperity.
In view of a failing health system, false prophets, cynical exploiters of the people’s fears and anxieties, promise miraculous cures for the incurable and sudden new life for the dying.
All this is abuse of religion and exploitation of the gullibility of a terror-stricken population.
Small wonder that some people have lost their faith because they have been duped by false prophecies and false images of the Divine too often.
The people of this country and their leaders have to face up to reality. There is no way out of our misery, out of disease, poverty and hunger, except through hard, honest work.
It is infantilism and sheer childishness to expect divine powers to rescue us. The Creator has given us a paradise and we have turned it into a potholed ruin. He has given us hands and brains, intelligence and energy. Only these, not overfed managers starving their workers, will turn the country around.
“The greatest among you must be your servant.” The only miracle we should pray and hope for is that we get leaders who are genuine servants of the people, without discrimination, with respect for everyone, without ethnic, political or social discrimination. Without responding to the cries of the people and their needs you are no leader at all.
That latest praise singer of his political boss had only one ambition: To hold on to power. But what is power? If it is no more than personal ambition, does it heal any sick person? Does it feed anyone starving? Does it provide any youngster with work and a living wage?
Our political class worships at the altar of power. They spend their time fighting their rivals. When do they work for the betterment of the lives of those who voted for them?
Power is not an end in itself. It must not become an idol in front of which people prostrate themselves like slaves. What happened to our liberation?
Power is merely a tool with which to achieve political goals for the improvement of the lives of all the people of the country, ie, for the common good, in solidarity with all, even the poorest of the poor.
Power is taken up like a tool, and put down again when the job is done. Madiba was able to give up power. Benedict XVI, a spiritual leader, listened to his conscience and stepped down when he could no longer serve his people.
These were free people, not tied to their positions of power. That is the greatness of leaders, to be able to listen to conscience and relinquish power. To forget self and ask what the people need.