The Soap Box Blog

Who says musicians can't preach? Notes regarding things that matter to us.

Christmas Blessings

Merry Christmas, everyone! For those of us in the northern hemisphere, the celebration of the coming of the light during one of the longest nights of the year takes on a particularly poignant meaning. Regardless of your faith background, spiritual path, or even your geographical location, Cheryl and I wish you the blessings of the season, and we offer a prayer of hope for our wounded world. May generosity overcome vacuity and consumer culture, may our thirst for justice truly be a quest for fairness and equality, and may we humbly come to appreciate our place on this fragile planet we call home. We wish you hope, peace, joy and love, at this time and for the year to come.

What Just Happened in BC?

We are very depressed after watching the election results last night. Regardless of who won a majority, we were anticipating a win for BC-STV, the proposed system of proportional representation for our province. And instead, it was soundly defeated! Fifty-eight percent of British Columbians voted in favour of BC-STV in 2005 (the bar was set at 60% to pass), but this time only 39% voted in favour of the exact same system proposed in 2005! And so our last chance to usher in a culture of consensus and compromise in BC politics has died, and minority voice is shut out for the forseeable future.

For those of us who look at issues of faith, social justice and the environment first when deciding how to vote this is very disconcerting. When will our culture learn that we need all voices at the table, that "business as usual" is leading us nowhere, fast? And we wonder why the percentage of people who bother to vote keeps going down and down...

Till Elections Do Us Part: What makes a government coalition work? A Canadian-European dialogue

In the aftermath of the ill-fated attempt to force the minority Conservatives from power and form a coalition government in Canada in December, 2008, the media spin has been amazing, and it has worked. The number of Canadians we meet who believe that a government needs a majority to be able to get anything done astounds us.

The majority of nations around the world function very well with coalitions, with a constant culture of compromise and consensus-making. This, to us, seems like a far more ethical and broader-based manner of government, one in which minority views have a place.

In an effort to help Canadians understand how beneficial coalitions can be (remember Medicare in the 1960s?), the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives hosted a conference on the topic in March, 2009. Video footage is online, broken up into segments of the various panel discussions. Very helpful indeed!

How would Jesus vote?

The provincial election is now on in British Columbia, our home province, with voting day on May 12th. Cheryl and I love elections, since they give us all a chance to reflect on the old adage: "never mix religion and politics." How can we not? Shouldn't our faith affect how we vote? In this election, it might be helpful to put all thoughts of personal gain, or "what's in it for me?" aside, and instead ask ourselves, before marking our ballot: "How would Jesus vote?"

We also have another chance to reform the voting process in British Columbia and adopt a system in which all votes count, proportional representation. The last time we had such a referendum in 2005, it almost passed, even though many people said they really didn't understand how the proposed system works and so didn't know how to vote. So this time, why not become better informed? There are a couple of helpful flash animations available on the web, through the Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform and through the Electoral College of South Australia, which illustrate how the single transferable vote system would work here in BC, if adopted. We hope you find them helpful in your discernment.

And regardless of how you vote, please do it!

Have the media learned anything from the economic crisis?

Just read a great article on one of our favourite forums, The Progressive Economics Forum. It reminds us again how the mainstream media are osbessed with the corporate, speculative approach to growing the economy, rather than more sensitive and sustainable approaches like "making real investments in the economy that create jobs and produce stuff." Check it out!

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