By Penny Mulvey
Politics can be grubby. Certainly the leadership spill of 26 June seemed cynical and disheartening. The media treated it like a game, right down to the timer ticking closer to the 7 pm vote in the corner of the Sky news coverage. Our western society is about winners and losers, so dramatically demonstrated on the eve of the last sitting day of federal parliament before the forthcoming election.
The vote was announced to the clamouring journalists. The vanquished gave a gracious speech. The winner was triumphant. And suddenly the political landscape changed.
How is leadership demonstrated in a consumers’ environment?
It seems the 24/7 news cycle, social media commentary and celebrity worship have pushed wise governance out of the driver’s seat.
The polar extremes within Australian society are making it next to impossible for the nuance, the balance, the considered, to be heard.
And yet…for all the distaste we might feel about the leadership change, there is also something quite extraordinary about it. A mature democracy, despite the kindergarten antics, brings order and process to what, in many countries, is shambolic or worse.
Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Myanmar, to name just a few, are in various states of internal conflict or civil war. A democratic state brings a civility which we take for granted. The day after our prime minister was deposed, she sat meekly in the backbenches of the House of Representatives observing her replacement.
The Uniting Church is not a democracy, nor is it a dictatorship. Point three of the Basis of Union outlines its foundation as built upon the One Lord Jesus Christ. “The Church as the fellowship of the Holy Spirit confesses Jesus as Lord over its own life; it also confesses that Jesus is Head over all things, the beginning of a new creation, of a new humanity.”
Its call is to be a fellowship of reconciliation, a body which builds up the whole.
These are not words of combat or division or competition, it is not a space which holds up ‘winners’ and decries ‘losers’.
Participants in the May 2013 Synod have shared in a space which seeks to embody that reconciliation, as all members, no matter what their view, are welcomed and heard. Decisions are taken, not by vote, but by a consensus process which can ultimately be changed by a single dissenting voice.
Crosslight has received letters questioning why individuals have not taken responsibility for the closure of Acacia College.
Perhaps the answer lies in what it means to be Uniting Church. Are we a people that seek punishment or one that acknowledge imperfection?
The Basis of Union reminds us that “the Church is a pilgrim people, always on the way towards a promised goal.” We have not arrived. We are on the journey.