An election process is the formal and organised process of selecting a person(s) for office (usually a position of leadership). It can also refer to a public vote upon a proposition submitted. In theology the term election is also used to refer to the invitation and appointment made by God for his church (corporately and individually).
What all these definitions have in common is the process of choosing – the act of free choice.
The principles of free choice are important to note:
When given the freedom to choose, (without coercion, manipulation, corruption, and misinformation) people thrive and are more likely to invest their energies into a joint effort towards meeting agreed goals.
Participation inspires social cohesion and ownership, enabling change to take place.
The emotional impact of free choice and participation leads to a feeling of achievement and happiness arising through the shared effort and the shared joy of completing a task together.
Conversely, where people are not given free choice and especially when they are forced to participate or accept decisions or actions they don’t agree with you will find resistance (active or passive). Frustration builds up and leads to apathy, rebellion, and desertion.
Trusting people to use their freedom of choice wisely requires us to commit to ensuring information is freely accessible, transparency is essential and platforms to address, dialogue and debate the issues of concern are essential, so as to enable people to make informed decisions /choices.
The evidence of failed election processes are in the news impacting the lives of millions of people:
Uganda on 18th February 2016 - Presidential: election monitoring states that the process was marred by intimidation, violence, lack of transparency, serious concerns of fraud
Bolivia on 21st February 2016 – referendum on constitution allowing leaders to run for as many terms of offices as they like. The current President (Evo Maroles) as already run for three terms!
Niger on 21st February 2016 – Presidential: of the 15 candidates approved to run the number who are facing charges ranging from political impropriety, trafficking to failing to submit a health certificate in a timely manner.
United Kingdom on 23rd June 2016 – referendum to stay in the EU or to leave. All this will be held during the media assault on migrants and refugees.
We can so easily become disillusioned with the election process that we withdraw.
I sometimes wonder if in the church we also play a power game and hold onto information, don’t encourage participation, restrict choice, and limit discussions on issues of concern.
Micah is a movement that seeks to create the space of shared learning, the platform to address the questions and concerns of communities, the place where we can question, challenge, inspire one another and change what is needed.
Lord, our hearts break when we see the failed election processes around the world, when we see those in power seeking to make laws that keep their power for themselves, that create climates of fear and confusion.
We earnestly seek ways in which we can speak truth to power, ensure people have access to information that enables wise decision making and create spaces for discussion.
Give us the courage to challenge our own institutions that limit participation and hold onto power through information control.
Thank you Lord that you have given us the freedom to choose to follow you. Thank you that you call us to participate with you in your mission, empowering us with the gifts and skills we need, and sending your Spirit to guide us with Truth and Love.