It was while trawling the web for the cover photo that I discovered that the most recent general election in India was the largest ever held. With India’s huge population — bigger than the EU and US combined — it took enormous efforts to ensure all adults, even those in the most rural areas, were able to vote. Every one of the 863,500,000 women and men held that right. Such is universal suffrage in a democracy — a right that we in New Zealand will be exercising next month.
It’s a happy synergy that our focus on the social justice principle of subsidiarity in this issue aligns with our preparation for the general elections. Casting our vote is a basic exercise of subsidiarity, of deciding who we think will be the best candidate and party for all people and the environment of our country. And viewed in this way we’re challenged to prepare well, letting the principles of social justice rub up against our choices, as the recently published New Zealand Bishops’ Statement encourages. We’ll need to weigh up for ourselves who will be bold enough to deal with issues like mental health, education, health and welfare, young families, homelessness, debt, immigration and care of Aotearoa, all with an eye to sustaining their gains into the future. That is, who will make an option to stop the inroads of poverty and excess in our country? Who is listening to and encouraging young people? Who is clear about where they will crop spending or increase taxes in order to achieve these social gains?
The discussion of subsidiarity in this issue — consulting those directly affected by decisions and allowing them to make their decisions — is not just about voting. It emphasises how the practice of subsidiarity upholds human dignity, encourages participation in society and remembers the common good. As Neil Darragh and John Dew infer, subsidiarity is an essential ingredient in the stew of a healthy society so that if omitted the flavour is unbalanced. It’s an important principle for the individual institutions of society, too, including the Church. Bobby Newson, Emma Dawson and Michele Madigan show opposing positions of subsidiarity in action — contributing to a fuller life or oppression. And Yakeza’s extraordinary deathbed letter is alive with faith and gratitude for all who cared for her. This is just a taste of what you will find in this 218th issue.
Our gratitude pours on all who have contributed to this magazine by sharing their writing, art, craft, reflection, research, passion and faith. Enjoy feasting on their words and reading their pictures.
Next month’s issue, September, will celebrate the 20th birthday of Tui Motu magazine — the seed has germinated and is blooming!
As is our custom, the last words are of blessing.
Tui Motu magazine. Issue 218, August 2017: 2.