PARTICIPATION IN SOCIETY. Provincial elections are set to take place next year in Ontario, New Brunswick, and Quebec. If we want to improve the choices we’re offered in elections, we have to be more involved. It’s no good grumbling about the candidates who were offered to us after the election, we have to start speaking up beforehand. We live in a democracy: we can change things, if we want to.
Fortunately, there are many ways to contribute to a better result. Some of them are quite simple.
THE FIRST STEP
The first and most important step in preparing for elections is to regularly consult (and support responsible news sources), and to reflect upon, share, and discuss the things we read. This shouldn’t be difficult – we all look at the news, it generally only requires a few minutes a day. And with resources available on the internet, it’s easier and easier to find news we care about.
Supporting responsible news sources is more important than many people might think: it requires effort for news agencies to monitor, research, and report news stories, and particularly to do it responsibly. Making up and publishing fake news is easy, and costs nothing. We have to support those who are trying to do it right.
We also have to bear in mind that much of the revenue earned by news sources these days comes through internet advertising, which is based almost entirely on choices made by individuals – like us – browsing the internet. This means that we have to be careful what we look at on the internet. Every time we click on a story about celebrity scandal or unnecessary details of someone’s bad conduct, we encourage news sources to seek out an publish that sort of news – they get paid more for producing it.
Exercise some self-discipline, and restrict your online reading to things we really should care about.
It’s also important to reflect on what we read. Take a moment, when you’ve finished with a story, to think about it from the perspective of the Gospel. What sorts of issues are raised? What would Jesus say about the story?
And bear in mind that, as easy as it is to collect our news through social media, social media posts are not always responsible sources of news. Pick a reputable local or national newspaper, and perhaps a print or online news magazine, and subscribe to it.
THE NEXT STEP
The next step is to share relevant and responsible news stories, and your thoughts about them, with friends and other voters. This can be done easily through social media. It’s important, though, to share thoughtful comments about responsible news stories, and not destructive criticism based on questionable news.
Rather than criticizing and tearing things down and driving people apart, we Catholics should think about building things up and drawing people together. The Good Shepherd wants us to gather people together in the ways He taught in the Gospel.
A very significant way of helping to ensure that the parties offer high-quality candidates next year is to become involved in the their candidate selection processes. Because this generally requires joining one of the parties, it is not always palatable to many people, particularly in these difficult days. But for those who are comfortable with it, party membership and participation in the candidate selection process can be a real service to the public, by bringing Gospel voices directly into the debate.
The parties are starting their processes for selecting candidates. Find out how they’re doing it, and what stage they’re at, and get involved.
Speak up conscientiously: put your voice and hear to work!
For any Catholic, prayer is a crucial part of participation in society. We must always pray for guidance, and for the welfare of others. Let’s pray for the wisdom and the humility to participate constantly and appropriately in democracy:
“Lady of Wisdom, mother of our Lord and of us all, lend ups please a bit of your wisdom, so that we might properly understand our duties to one another, including our duty to inform ourselves about the world and to make choices that are good for everyone – choices that will be pleasing to you and to your Son.
Through your most Holy Son, who lives and reigns in unity with the Father and the Holy Spirit, for the victory of your own Immaculate Heart, we pray.
If you’d like help in learning about how the social teachings of the Church relate to current events, watch our news posts. We try to add a few words of explanation with each report.
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