Friday, April 12, 2013

A Politics Informed By Spirituality

Me with the Unitarian Universalist chalice.

Matter of Taste Coffee Bar - Kitchener, Ontario
12/04/2013 - 6:00pm

Lately I've been thinking a whole lot about where politics fits into my life. I have always been interested in politics. My grandfather was a municipal politician (as well as taking a run at provincial politics), my father was always interested in politics, and I caught the bug. I would attend rallies when federal leaders were visiting a nearby town. I shook hands with Jean Chretien and Jean Charest, and went to an event with Stockwell Day.

But it wasn't until a couple of years ago that I personally became involved in politics, first as Secretary of my local New Democratic Party executive, and then serving as LGBTQ Representative as an ally on the executive.  It was a very rewarding experience, as I met new people and went to different events. 

Now I am Vice President of Kitchener Centre's New Democratic Party, and I am thinking what my role is moving forward, and furthermore, what are my reasons for doing so?  

Plain spoken, I do not want to be a politician merely for the sake of politics. I don't want to be a politician merely in order to gain power and to be able to say "I'm the King of the Castle."

No, if I am to move forward and be involved in politics, it is something that must be informed by what is at the core of my being. For me, that is my spiritual journey.  I come from a family of preachers, grew up in a small country Christian church, and now am part of a flourishing Unitarian Universalist congregation here in Kitchener.

When I think of my spirituality, I have to ask myself, "What do I want? Who do I want to be?"  The answers that keep coming back to me are, "Be a person of character," "Listen more," "Do not steer away from those who are impoverished; instead be of service to them." "Seek justice, equality, be compassionate."

I do not want to be a New Democrat merely so that I can sneer at Conservatives or Liberals. This is small-mindedness. Yes, I must stand up and be firm when the government is implementing policies which I believe are harmful to the people of this country, but I must not demonize them or dehumanize them.

I am proud to be party of a political party which has had many women and men of faith at its core. Tommy Douglas and Bill Blaikie come to mind, as well as current MP's such as Paul Dewar.

I will move forward as a New Democrat who strives to always be informed by my faith and I look forward to working with people of every faith.

Mark Andrew Nouwen
Vice-President - Kitchener Centre New Democratic Party