natural (s)election 2015

6 01 2015

Darwin’s theory of natural selection sounds quite lovely, as soft-focus nature browses to select the prettiest flowers to match it’s rousing theme music. But is actually part of the cruel evolutionary process of survival of the fittest; or, elimination of the weakest. Funny how we don’t call it that. Such a cruel process of nature, it was one of the reasons Darwin, a ‘sort of’ Christian, began to question faith in the God of natural theology. How could there be such cruelty in a godly world?

We humans like to think we’re above the cruelty of nature, but in these turbulent political times I think it’s clear we’re not. Christians can be unpopular when we talk about humans being innately “sinful”. It sounds unfair, harsh, after all, just look at all the goodness in the world… But it is in our nature to survive, our instinct to preserve our own at all costs. That’s why Jesus’ teaching about actively loving those who are not our kin were controversial then, and still are now. Which is how we get from Darwin to the election.

This upcoming election will not be about the economy, or immigration, or the NHS, although it will look like it is. Instead it will be about innate human selfishness. It will be the election of natural (s)election – the ‘what’s in it for me’, survival-of-the-fittest generation grabbing whatever toys they can and clutching them like angry toddlers. Black Friday in a suit. 

Or can we be better than that? Can we choose to vote for policies that don’t directly benefit us? Can we put our own situation in second place to society’s need? Will wealthy Christian individuals and business leaders openly speak out for intentionally paying tax? Will the capable and motivated campaign for issues that do not just affect them, but the weakest around them?

The Christian story doesn’t stop at the sinfulness of humanity. Our story goes on to speak of the generosity of God, of his grace that transforms our sinfulness into love and kindness and sacrifice. Our story overcomes natural selection to a very unnatural selection, in which our model is Jesus, who did not clutch his equality with God like a toddler, but made himself nothing for us; in which we look to love and support the weakest, not eliminate them.  

May this upcoming election campaign be one that does not degenerate into a selfishness competition, in which our greatest value is tolerance; but one in which outward-looking values of love, generosity, humility and loving our neighbour triumph. To do that, it must begin with us. 

thingsjesusdidntsay8tolerance

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5 responses

6 01 2015
colemanitter

Had a great time visiting Parliament for first time yesterday with a Yr6 class being reminded of events and characters that shape our laws today – I reckon we’re in a good constitutional state but our fast food media appetite (and coy politicians not outlining difference between debt, deficit and budgeting) mean we’ll react to caricatures rather than reasonably debate the policies. Thanks for the reminder Kevin to stay true to valuing others

6 01 2015
c2drl

Well, I certainly think all then “leading” politicians have a good dose of the selfish gene. I wonder if the old days, when people were MPs for altruistic reasons really existed.

Vote for me, i have no principles and will say whatever is needed to get elected and keep my place as leader of my party.

6 01 2015
edgsoni

Good points Kevin and well made as ever.
Is evolution cruel, or just evolution? Are politicians selfish, or just politicians? Not sure what I think sometimes.
The election will no doubt prove to be a triumph of disaster over hope. As usual, when we are on the crest of a slump, we dig a bigger hole and try to throw the poor souls who don’t look or think like us into it. Endless weeks of self serving drivel and lies awaits us. Deep joy.
We get the governments we deserve. I wish it would change. I wish it was better. I fear it will get more hateful and hurtful.
Incidentally, raising more tax is only a good thing if it benefits the greater good and contributes to human flourishing. If it just means more guns and bombs and backhanders for government cronies, it’s a bad thing.
But one day, I’m sure, a new leader will emerge who will earn our respect and lead us with wisdom, courage, grace and healthy purpose. Otherwise, we are in deep trouble.
The best hope of course is that this isn’t the end of the story. It doesn’t have to be this way. Things will change. Won’t they?

7 01 2015
carol

How do you use your vote intelligently when each party leader plays the same power games?
Do you compromise on important issues of morality and welfare so you can vote at all?
What would Jesus do?
Help!

7 01 2015
Kevin

Thanks for the comments, some really interesting points made. One of the websites that has helped me, and will hopefully again this year, is http://voteforpolicies.org.uk, where you are shown policies that you choose, without knowing which party they belong to; then at the end it shows you, and it can be pretty unexpected!

I think in voting there will always be compromises, because no one party will be 100% acceptable to any of us; so we can vote, but let the people we are voting for know why we are voting, and what we disagree with as much as what we agree with.

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