AS responsible citizens, we need to cast our vote in the May elections. “Voting wisely” entails a deep understanding of the Biblical duty and civic responsibility of voting. Some voters choose candidates within political party lines. Others support candidates by reason of their religious affiliations, as in bloc voting.
When we become more mindful of the value of one vote, we gain a better appreciation that all our votes are not for the politicians, but for God and country. Samuel Adams, one of the Founding Fathers of America, puts it in this wise: “Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote…that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.”
Thus, in the Philippine context, voting wisely during this midterm elections should not be based on endorsements or whether the candidate comes from the opposition-led “Otso Diretso” or from the Duterte-endorsed PDP-Laban Party. The way I see it, there are deserving candidates from both parties. Inasmuch as we are accountable to God and country for our vote, voting wisely transcends political or religious affiliations. We must discern how these candidates look at God and country in the first place. Believers should be reminded of what the Bible said in Exodus 18:21, “But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.” Thus, our Biblical duty is to vote (those who fear) God.
“Vote wisely”—I hear often said but I see seldom done. I have friends who can vote but refuse to vote, saying—“One vote doesn’t matter.” Some say, “No matter how I vote, corrupt officials get elected anyway.” These excuses are not uncommon these days. Those who are disillusioned in the electoral process, however, fail to value the right (not merely a privilege) they have in choosing the leaders of this country. Some countries do not even give their citizens this right.
By doing nothing, as in not voting, these frustrated citizens fail to look at the long-term effects of bad leadership. Author and inspirational author Simon Sinek said, “Leadership is not about the next election; it’s about the next generation. Thus, we should encourage one another to vote! In the Bible, Proverbs 29:2 tells us, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan.”
Fortunately, the Filipino, owing to his resilience and forgiving heart, has yet to groan since 1986—People Power Revolution in Edsa. Thus, our civic responsibility is to vote (for the love of) country!
Voting wisely utilizes an honest conscience. Wise voters do not rely on skewed surveys or manufactured image in the media or the perceived “winnability” of their candidates. They say, “though my candidate might not win, I will still vote him/her.” Conscientious voters always vote for principle, true to the words of former US President Abraham Lincoln: “Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.”
To find out about the candidates’ principles, voters must know (1) what the candidates said in the past or during the campaign and (2) who are these candidates associated with. In campaign sorties, talk is cheap to the extent that these candidates promise so much yet deliver so little when they get into office. Hence, a wise voter needs the gift of discernment to weed out those candidates who have the propensity to lie for a moment or take a different stand than what he has been known for, just to be elected.
In the Bible, Proverbs 12:19 tells us, “The lip of truth shall be established forever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment.”
I am a firm believer of the adage “birds of a feather flock together.” Although our political parties are not as mature as those in other countries, candidates associate with those who they like or adore, mutually share convictions and beliefs, or have things in common. Thus, those voters should look at the friends and allies of their respective candidates knowing that these associates may well serve as a gauge whether what the candidate said or has been saying is merely lip service or his true ideology. For instance, a person might say he is morally upright and corrupt-free, but when seen keeping the company of thieves and liars, his declaration ought to be put into question.
In the Bible, Proverbs 13:20 tells us, “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” Perhaps we have heard it many times—tell me the company that you keep and I will tell you who you are.
Nonetheless, after we have done our duty, part of voting wisely includes embracing the results and fervently praying for those who got elected. In the Bible, 1 Timothy 2:2 tells us, “Pray in that way for kings and for all rulers and people who have authority. Pray for God to help them, so that we may live our lives without trouble or danger. Then we can live in a good way that respects God and other people.”
Ultimately, God always wins, even though others, perhaps, did not vote for Him.
For questions and comments, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.