Thinking Local: The Importance of Political Action in Your Community
Submitted By James Zekveld: If we fulfill our responsibilities in the little things, greater responsibilities are given. These words are customarily given to children when they complain about the mundane jobs they were given. But they remain true through life. Politics is an example of where people think they can work top down; change the law on abortion and everything will be right. But one law from Ottawa may not change much on the ground level. Local politics can be far more effective and lead to change sooner than if we devote all our attention to the federal government.
Politically active Christians are a minority in Canada. A minority can have a lot of influence. Look at the gay rights movement and it is easy to see what a minority can do. But even they didn’t begin in the halls of Parliament. It began with gay communities and gay clubs in cities that, due to pressure, allowed them to exist. The community where I go to school (Moscow, Idaho) has a gay pride parade every year, even though the state has socially conservative leadership. However important the rulings of the highest legislature may be, the ideology of the community is going to have a far greater affect.
A Christian who is active locally will also be far more affective as an individual. It is easier to be admired in a small town than in a big city. If many Christians are active among many nuclei, their message will be disseminated far more quickly than a continual stream of time and resources to reach the ears of high ranking officials.
We should not give up writing those high ranking officials. Those letters are clearly effective. But we should not be satisfied with only that level of political action. We can give words to Parliament but we can give a face to our community. We do this by working on community projects, starting Christian community projects, working with local schools and local councilors and thereby showing to our neighbor the grace that is evident in Christianity.
Some very practical ways of working locally are to run for the town council or for the local school board. There will be difficulties, but it is far easier to see through and keep yourself from petty local corruption than from the subtle corruptions of the higher echelons.
In our desire to bring Christianity to the public square, we must remember to take baby steps. If we go too fast we may break something. Start locally, even if you are only 1% of the population or less. Your Christian faith must shine out and be demonstrated to your neighbors. At the same time hold on tightly to the community of Christ. From there your work can be two-pronged; witness to your neighbors and do not be afraid to speak to kings.