waking up to politics (5) — Christian goes to the polls

It’s time to wrap up my reflections on the challenge of approaching politics in a Christian manner. I’m going to do it by telling a story. I call it: Christian goes to the polls

Christian yawned and scratched his head as he took in the dim bedroom. Glancing at the window next to the bed he was briefly dazzled by the way the sun was lighting up the outer rim of the blinds. He blinked.

“Hmmmm. Wonder what time it is?”

Rolling over he reached out for the dresser, slapping his hand down more or less randomly on the book-piled surface — his typical morning ritual to help him find his glasses and/or phone to check the time.

“10.30! Wow. Full week I guess… Hey, it’s the 21st — election day! That sure crept up quick. Better shoot up a quick prayer for rulers and those in authority (as well as those eternally-harried polling officials today, I guess).”

Christian’s lazy Saturday morning routine saw him showered, shaved, dressed and out the door by just after 12noon — with enough time to take a cup of tea into his wife, cook eggs, make himself a coffee with the scraps of his bag of no-longer-quite-so-freshly-ground coffee, and watch some cheesy music videos.

Rolling up at his local polling centre (a primary school) with his wife, Christian drank in the scene. The line of eager and not so eager voters spilled out the school gate and stretched around the corner. Brandishing How To Vote cards, little troops of electioneers wearing brightly coloured T-shirts and slightly forced smiles were roving up and down the line.

Christian had watched the campaign unfold in the past few weeks. The party heads had done their thing: courting important industries, slinging campaign slogans and mud on talk-back radio, and generally acting like pro wrestlers before a title fight. But there was a lot to take on faith. He had a pretty good hunch about who to vote for — although he wasn’t entirely sure how it (or that letter he’d written to their Federal Member last year) might help whoever ended up in government do its job of representing the people.

“Good thing all our hopes for the future aren’t riding on this!”, he muttered to his wife.

As Christian and his wife shuffled along in line, they exchanged pleasantries with people nearby. Christian had a particular fondness for making bad puns — and the election campaign had afforded him ample opportunity to hone a bunch of them, which he now proudly rattled off. And was (predictably) greeted by groans.

Having hurled the last of his verbal hand-grenades at their allotted corner of the universe, Christian and his wife struck up conversation with a man who was there to vote by himself. The man had been hovering at the edge of conversation, flashing the occasional shy grin. Apparently, he lived quite close to them and seemed genuinely happy to make some connection.

They were nearing the entrance to the polling station. The local Scout troop had put on a sausage sizzle. And just before they were called forward, Christian and his wife suggested to the man that they chat some more over a sausage sandwich once they’d cast their votes. Christian and his wife then sauntered over to have their names ticked off and pick up their ballot papers — the little House of Reps one as well as the stupidly large Senate one. Christian liked to think he was making an effort to ‘humanise’ this transaction — not lingering in a weird and creepy way, but attempting to show some genuine appreciation to the woman who ticked his name off and reverently handed him the little bundle of paper.

After duly indicating his preferences (there was one name he didn’t recognise on the House of Reps ballot paper and he always took too long on the Senate one), he tucked his folded papers into the appropriate cardboard receptacles. Christian turned to make his way out into the sunshine, lured by the smell of sizzling sausages and the promise of conversation…

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