**I originally posted this on Sunday, but removed it from FB after seeing I upset someone and was afraid of being offensive. I’m reposting it (with changes), however, because I believe the overall message is important to consider and I don’t want to hide like my natural tendency is to do… look at me being a big boy.
Politics and religion, the two topics we’re not supposed to talk about and I’m hitting both in one shot. It’s a good thing I don’t have many people who read my posts or I’d be in trouble. I preach there’s good in all things and this is the good thing about being mostly unknown. I can say what I want with little worry of anyone really caring. Bonus… sometimes.
Even if I try to bury my head in the sand Doug Ford is creating such a stir that it’s impossible not to hear about stuff he’s doing. Reading the Spec this week, one of the bigger topics was Ford’s government cancelling the basic income pilot project (https://www.thespec.com/news-story/8773474-ontario-government-scraps-basic-income-pilot-project/). I have become someone who works at seeing the good in all things and tries to understand both sides of an argument (comedy writing taught me that when writing a fight you need to ask two questions: Why are they fighting? Why are they both right?). This makes it difficult to pick sides in most debates like in this situation. As usual I’m not picking a side because both have validity and I will acknowledge this… you know, like a wuss afraid of conflict… although by not picking a side I run the risk of upsetting everyone… and this is why people avoid talking politics. The question I’m most concerned with, however, is at what point do we need to accept responsibility for ourselves and our community and not look to the government to fix our problems? I’m yet to hear someone seriously say something like: “This is the best thing I’ve ever seen done in the most efficient and cost effective way; it must be a government project.” Despite this understanding, it often feels as if our society has become so government dependent that it’s like the government is our “father” (note the biblical reference… I think I’m clever), which has led to many of us forgetting how to serve one another. Maybe the answer shouldn’t be found with the government, but with our fellow citizens? For instance, I firmly believe if you are one of the thousands of people who have signed the petition to have this program reinstated because you care about those in need your vote should only count if you are involved in the community volunteering your time, talents, and/or money (for the record I do all three, so I’m not being a hypocrite). We can’t expect the government to do what we, ourselves, aren’t willing to do… and that’s the statement I know will get me in trouble. So much for trying to avoid conflict. The next section will help explain this thinking.
All this being considered, I believe we need to be more like Washington DC. Washington is a fascinating city because it is a federal district and not a state, which means it doesn’t have voting representation in Congress. (Knowing this makes me feel American; I think I need to have a shower). This lack of voting power means politicians don’t really care about the people there, which has led to the country’s capital having serious crime and homelessness problems. When I was a youth pastor Washington was one of the six cities I visited through CSM (www.csm.org), and this city was by far the best at helping the homeless despite having the least government support. How? There were churches everywhere that were helping. Churches there were like Tim Hortons, Starbucks, McDonalds, and Subway all combined. There literally was a church on every corner in some areas, and they were all active in the community partly because they had to be. There was a need, so they were filling it.
On this mission trip to Washington I had an experience that none of the other cities could come close to matching. The one night I was sent with several young people and a bag full of lunches we had made to hand out at a park known for being where homeless people congregate. When we got there we found everyone was already well fed because other church groups had already been there. One homeless guy even gave me bread for feeding the ducks. While talking to him he said that everyone was well taken care of there and it was all through the churches. This was a city where the Church was doing what it’s called to: feeding the hungry (Mat 25:35-40). And while the churches unite to feed the homeless, they become empowered by having a mission and common goal. By helping others, the Church was helping itself. The church in Washington is strong because it is doing what it is called to do: love. What’s amazing about this is we were created to help each other as helping those in need is an important way to develop our emotional health.
This is why I struggle with socialism: I believe everyone should be taken care of in the most basic sense, but when the government is expected to take care of all of it, not only do people miss out on the opportunity to help others like the churches in Washington do, government run programs are always second rate because of budgets and lack of passion, which naturally result in a world of bureaucracy. Thus, despite not knowing where I really stand with the cancelling of this poverty pilot program, what I do know is this is a great opportunity for churches to do what they are called to do: serve. This is a chance for the people of Hamilton, in general, to serve and build a deeper connection with each other and grow their own sense of self worth. And, as a final thought, several people told me that Jesus was a socialist, but if they read the Gospels Jesus wasn’t into politics; He was focused on the importance of loving each other and this included caring for one another, especially those most vulnerable. He never once said “You should help people by putting in a government to take care of everyone in need so you can live without getting your hands dirty.” Jesus got His hands dirty, which means so should we.
This week may we start to take ownership of our own city and not just look to the government to be our “father” when we already have one.
Rev Chad David, ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people