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Life in Community

How Do Bruderhof Members Vote?

October 11, 2019 by

Hard as this is to admit, I have to confess a definite weakness for winding people up. I don’t know where I get this, although in his own way my dad is exactly the same. And one topic that almost always works is politics. Given our unity of purpose within the Bruderhof, you might think that we hold identical political views. This is not the case (nor should it be!). We have Trump supporters. We have Bernie Sanders supporters. We have Boris fans. We have people who think Corbyn is something wonderful. We have people who think voting at all is wrong. We have Brexiteers, and we definitely have Remainers.

And some of us get really excited about this stuff. Raised voices. Flapping arms. Stomping. I’m sorry to say that the arguments occasionally degenerate to the point where people’s faith is called into question. Does it matter? I think it does. As a community we have many times discussed what our relationship to politics should be; although we don’t have full consensus on all things political, we are clear about the following:

  1. None of us will ever run for or hold public office.
  2. We should care about political developments.
  3. We are not going to let political differences of opinion divide us.

And although I may get a perverse kick out of seeing someone wound up, what really gives me pleasure is to listen to or take part in an intelligent debate between well-informed people who passionately disagree. In my experience such exchanges have the potential to deepen friendships, rather than the reverse. Our saving grace in all this is our house rule on conflict resolution: one option that is never on the table is going off in a huff and never speaking to each other again.

two men talking at the Bruderhof, an intentional Christian community

The last time I wrote about politics a number of people complained that I did not dare put my own views on the line. I don’t think I will this time either; in my opinion, why one believes something is probably as important as what one believes. My point of view is no doubt affected by my having been around long enough to have seen several revolutions of what constitutes “correct thinking.” I view the whole notion of bien pensant orthodoxy with distaste; so yeah, everything else being equal I will go with the less PC option.

In my opinion, why one believes something is probably as important as what one believes.

Bottom line, it is a good thing to care. It’s good to care about how best to run our respective villages and towns, counties and countries; to go to hustings, to argue with our local politicians, to write letters to our representatives in government. It is good to care about who the president of the United States is and to vote out of conviction. It’s probably even good to curse and scream and throw the sofa cushions at the TV when the news comes on.

But doing this stuff is Not. Bloody. Enough. A single act of friendship has got to be worth any number of votes. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus spells out the things that will really make a difference: loving your neighbor and your enemy, praying for nasty people, forgiving, trusting that God will look after you, taking care of the poor, aiming for the bottom rather than the top. That’s the way we are trying to live at the Bruderhof. It’s not that easy, but it’s one hell of a ride.


About the author


Ian Barth

Ian lives at the Darvell community in East Sussex, UK with his wife Olivia and their four boys.

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  • Thank you for this Ian. Good to know there is healthy discussion about what’s going on in politics. The Lib Dems have just approved their parliamentary candidate, Martin Saunders and he would certainly like to meet any of your community who would be interested.

    Sue Prochak