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In one week Australians will be going to the polls.

I cannot remember a more unpleasant election campaign.

There was a time when politicians talked about policies.

However, the past few weeks have been marred by character assasination and insult.

So why should we be concerned?

Many years ago I was in a large Asian city on holidays. It must have been a holy day because the local government held a parade. As the first floats appeared several young people ran onto the road to take photographs. Unfortunately, the army beat them back with batons. The intensity of their response shocked me and I asked a local missionary to explain it to me.

“It’s really quite simple,” my friend and colleague replied. “Men in uniform reflect the attitude of the government toward their people.”

We live in a world where some governments live in fear of their own citizens. Others care about their people and provide housing, hospitals and schools.

Respect is important. Respect is the key to acceptance. If we lack respect it will become easier for us to reject certain types of people. We already make it very hard for refugees to seek asylum.

So pray for our candidates. Perhaps a minority government that has to work with independents would be a good thing. Imagine a prime minister who has to listen patiently to people with different ideas.

So pray for our nation. Pray for an outbreak of civility.