Assessing the bigger picture at election time

Justice Matters 

Catholic Social Justice Commission

WE all face a Federal election this year and, for those in the ACT, a Territory election for good measure. As we consider our voting intentions, we will be faced with many issues but we should put those into the ‘big picture’.

If we could shrink the earth’s population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all the existing human ratios remaining the same, there would be:

  • 50 females and 50 males;
  • 26 children and 74 adults (eight of whom would be 65 and older);
  • 60 Asians, 15 Africans, 14 from the Americas and 11 Europeans;
  • 33 Christians, 22 Muslims, 14 Hindus, seven Buddhists, 12 people who practice other religions, and 12 people who would not be aligned with a religion;
  • 12 would speak Chinese as their first language, five Spanish, five English, three each Arabic, Hindi, Bengali and Portuguese, two each Russian and Japanese, and 62 would speak other languages;
  • Five people would control 32 per cent of the entire world’s wealth and all five would be US citizens;
  • 77 would have shelter from wind and rain but 23 would not;
  • 22 would own or share a computer;
  • 17 would be unable to read and write;
  • Seven would have a tertiary education (thanks mainly to advances in Asia);
  • One would be dying from starvation, 15 would be undernourished, and 21 would be overweight.

When we consider our world from such a compressed perspective, the need for acceptance, understanding and education becomes glaringly apparent.

The following is also something to ponder:

  • If you woke up this morning with more health than illness… you are more blessed than the one million who will not survive this week.
  • If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation… you are ahead of 500 million people in the world.
  • If you can attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death… you are more blessed than three billion people in the world.
  • If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep…. you are richer than 75 per cent of this world.
  • If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish some place… you are among the top eight per cent of the world’s wealthy.
  • If your parents are still alive and still married… you are very rare, even in Australia.
  • If you can read this article, you are more blessed than more than two billion people in the world who cannot read at all.
  • So where do you fit into this “big picture”? In Australia, and in the ACT, there are issues of justice that bear our consideration. The Australian Bishops will likely make a statement (as they did for the 2013 Federal election), drawing attention to issues worth considering in making our vote count. And our Archdiocesan Catholic Social Justice Commission will provide information on justice issues for the Territory election, including questions we might ask of candidates to help us decide who will make our community more just.

We are not expected to frame our voting intentions solely on issues of social justice. There are other matters of government that must also come into our decision making. However, a society that eschews justice will ferment other social ills and in the end descend into chaos: history tells us so.