Why should #IStandWithDuncan?
As you can’t help but have noticed, this week was the first week of the Australian Federal Election campaign. Congratulations, Australia. It’s here.
For all the policy promises, handshakes with babies, and politicians assuring us they’re way better than their opponents, the biggest winner this week was a low-income bloke in a hoodie.
Duncan Storrar seemed to instantly became a national sensation when he asked personal questions about tax relief on Monday night’s Q&A program. Storrar asked the panel why the Federal Government had proposed tax relief for “rich people” and not for those, like himself, at the other end of the pay scale.
Swiftly, Duncan had a hashtag (#istandwithduncan), about one bazillion news stories written about him, and positive and negative reactions to his Q&A fame. As politicians try to get us to care about anything they say, Duncan finished the week with more than $60,000 donated to him via crowdfunding. Whoa.
Normally, talking about tax in public is as popular as acid rain. So why the fuss about an everyday guy’s request for tax relief?
Heart of the rate
When we sift through all the media noise and contrasting responses to Duncan’s questions, the heart of #istandwithduncan seems to be all about the heart.
The issue of what rate of tax each person should pay isn’t nearly as important as what’s driving those levels. How are tax rates set? Is there any place for compassion, mercy and generosity? Where’s the human heart beneath the bureaucracy of tax laws?
I’m sure setting the rate of tax for everyone in Australia is a tough job. Like plenty of other things, setting them involves so many factors and considerations, it’s almost mindblowing. And it’s not like we can do without tax rates and regulations. Think of the services and infrastructure we’d lose if tax was wiped out.
But what Duncan’s cry on Q&A points us back to is that tax rates should be set, at very least, with things like compassion and generosity in mind. Because such things should be driving anything we do.
Lord, have mercy
“God has told you what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you: to act justly, to love faithfulness and to walk humbly with your God.” That incredible statement was first made by the prophet Micah (recorded in chapter 6:8). Such a summary of how God calls us to live was upheld by Jesus. When he was asked about why he hung around with “tax collectors and sinners”, Jesus replied: “Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice’. For I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 8:9-12)
‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice’ is an Old Testament declaration about the human heart (see Hosea 6:6). God requires those who love Him to do so with their whole heart and not just go through the motions of religious worship. For the latter group incorrectly thinks they already are “righteous”, rather than admitting we all are sinners and need God’s mercy through Jesus. When we grasp that mercy which Jesus came to extend to us all, we should grasp how important it is to extend mercy through whatever we do.
Whether it’s a situation like Duncan has sparked – or anything else – the right response is always the same. Go back to the heart of matters. God calls us to act justly, to love faithfulness and to walk humbly with Him. To be merciful and not soulless, as we are obedient to Him and guided by Him. At all times. In all situations.