Local bodies govern many aspects of our daily lives and this month the country votes for a new set of representatives to make decisions about, for example, the quality of drinking water and whether its use should be measured and further charged for. Water is essential for survival and, in October when the Church focuses on pro-life issues, we could look at how those among us who are struggling to survive are affected by local issues such as the free access to water.
Water and survival were central to the story in John 4 of Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well. Hot and tired, Jesus needed a drink but he had no vessel with which to draw water from the well. ‘Give me a drink,’ he said to the Samaritan woman. A simple request but Jesus breaks three taboos,
- in speaking to the woman in public,
- in making himself ritually unclean by drinking from a Samaritan bucket, and
- by fraternising with a known ‘sinner’.
The woman listens to Jesus as he tells her of the living water, then goes to tell her fellow Samaritans about her life-giving encounter.
In listening to Jesus and then transmitting his message to others, the Samaritan woman teaches us about the sort of communication we need to decide on the next local government team in our area.
We need to know the issues – water for drinking, flushing and irrigation, but also, for example, roading and public transport, healthcare, waste disposal, parks and gardens – all life-giving issues without which a community would not survive.
The Samaritans could see the life-giving transformation in their messenger as well as hear her words. We, too, have a number of ways in which we can find out about those willing to work on our behalf for a better community infrastructure. We have pamphlets that arrived in the mail last month with the voting papers. The website www.vote.co.nz also gives information about the candidates.
In choosing candidates, we could ask ourselves,
- Who seems to have the poor and vulnerable most at heart?
- Where are the concerns for the environment?
- Is this candidate likely to work for the community as a whole or just for themselves?
- Who shows the most concern for children (playing areas, cycle lanes) and those with disabilities (access to transport, buildings and public areas)?
Our concern for those who do not have a vote, or who are marginalised by unjust systems must lead us to learn how best to make our communities more life-giving for all, including the environment.
Our vote is vital for life – post your ballot paper today.