[forthright] Bundhs, Hartals, and Power Politics

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From: "Forthright Magazine" <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Sat, 08 Apr 2006 16:22:24 -0300
Forthright Magazine
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Straight to the Cross

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COLUMN: Field Notes

Bundhs, Hartals, and Power Politics
by Michael E. Brooks

   "Let nothing be done through selfish
   ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of
   mind let each esteem others better than
   himself" (Philippians 2:3).

Nepal is in the midst of an extended "bundh"
(strike) called by the political parties whose
role in government has been negated by the King.
He dismissed the prime minister and parliament
some time ago, seizing power for himself. Now the
parties have united to create pressure on him to
restore democracy.

The tactic of calling strikes to immobilize the
country and produce economic hardship and
difficulties for the population is common in a
number of South Asian countries. Those in
opposition to the government call a strike (in
Bangladesh the word is "hartal") on the theory
that the people will become upset at the
inconvenience and ultimately blame the government,
forcing them to resign, change policies, or
perhaps be defeated in election. These bundhs and
hartals are enforced with threat of force and
oftentimes actual violence.

There is great similarity between this
theoretically peaceful form of protest and the
insurrections and rebellions we have seen in the
past century by communist and other rebel groups
throughout the world. They have often attempted to
bring down a government by destroying the social
infrastructure through guerilla warfare,
terrorism, and in other ways.

One common factor in all these instances is the
desire for power among those employing the
tactics. A second is the lack of concern for the
well-being of those whom they claim to represent.
Death and destruction is justified on the basis of
future benefit, but the people never prosper. It
is only the upper elite leaders of the movement
who satisfy their desires (if they are successful)
while the vast majority pay the price.

How different Christianity is! Jesus said to his
apostles,

   "You know that those who are considered
   rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them
   and their great ones exercise authority
   over them. Yet it shall not be so among
   you; but whoever desires to become great
   among you shall be your servant. And
   whoever of you desires to be first shall
   be slave of all. For even the Son of Man
   did not come to be served, but to serve,
   and to give his life a ransom for many"
   (Mark 10:42-45).

In Christ's Kingdom, service and love of neighbor
are the route to influence. The politics of force,
selfish ambition, and exercise of power are
forbidden.

Would it not be truly wonderful if our countries
operated on these principles? If we could truly
know that no law would ever be passed or action
taken just to benefit our rulers, or consolidate
their power?

But it is not just our nations that these
principles are designed for. How much better would
life in our homes be if every member of each
family sought what was best for the other members
as much as for himself? Would businesses profit
more if every member of management and every
worker sought the good of all? If the path to
promotion and raise was that one proved genuinely
helpful to others?

This is not some impossible utopia. Jesus
commanded his followers to practice the same
policy which he himself lived by. He proved it
possible and he proved that his way benefits all,
even the one who gives himself up for others.

   "And being found in appearance as a man,
   he humbled himself and became obedient to
   the point of death, even the death of the
   cross. Therefore God also has highly
   exalted him and given him the name which
   is above every name" (Philippians 2:8-9).

We can love our neighbors "as ourselves." We can
deny selfish ambition and seek the well-being of
all. And when even a few believers in Jesus truly
practice his lifestyle, the impact on our world is
tremendous.

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