We are in sad state of politics. Maybe I am prone to see this from my many years of being in politics. Maybe I am just being a pessimist or cynical when it comes to politics – that is certainly possible and has happened many times in the past. Maybe it’s just that when I read rhetorically violent and dehumanizing language over a policy debate, I’m reminded that I lost my first naivete of politics long ago and learned what politics is really about at that same time.
When did the current state of politics become so life or death for so many people?
When did politics become so tied to ones identity?
When did politics become founded on fear?
When did disagreement mean that you turned into an enemy of the state and a threat to the security of the nation?
Oh, that’s right, these things are inherent in politics and have been a part of politics since politics came into being. Think I’m exaggerating? Read some history. When a new king came to power, the most likely result was that political opponents were executed – they were a threat to the new regime’s power.
And yet we put our trust and so often our salvation in politics and politicians and the rhetoric they use as if it were divine inspiration. It is as if politics were a religion where each sect believes that there is no salvation outside of the sect and that all who disagree aren’t just holding a different opinion, but are heretics or worse, evil and damned to hell – no salvation for them.
The high holy sacraments of politics – money and power are fought over as if they came directly from the Messiah.
And we willingly offer sacrifice to the god of Politics in the form of rhetorical blood, scapegoating, and dehumanizing language to all that worship a different god. This god has a different Golden Rule – Do unto others what is necessary to make them comply and if they won’t sacrifice them at the altar of being right.
In politics there are representations of evil in the form of either George Soros or the Koch brothers depending on your political denomination.
And like faithful devotees, we attend services like political rallies or political TV shows with their own televangelists, listening to the Word of Politics being preached by the priests – the candidates and elected representatives. We wait with baited breath to hear the Good News that the party and it’s candidates will bring salvation on election day.
Politics is devoutly practiced in this country – probably the largest religion. It becomes a foundational way of living and being for so many devotees. When asked who they are, they proudly answer with the party they cling to and have their identity wrapped up in. S0 many look with disdain at people who wrap their identity in the other party. And are dumbfounded when they come across someone who sees both political denominations as corrupt in practice and ideas.
And the more division and strife and campaigning and problems we face, the more we invest ourselves into the parties and what they stand for and their rhetoric. Our identities are at stake. And like any good addict, we tell ourselves we can quit anytime we want. That we’ll make our faith the foundation of our lives and live according to its tenants. And then we see a debate over something and feel the need to respond, the need to be right creeps in and takes over. And we put our faith on hold yet again. It’s time to offer sacrifice again.
There’s always tomorrow we tell ourselves. “Right now I have to respond to that meme that a Facebook connection made – they just don’t get it, those idiots.” Sacrifice offered. The god of Politics is pleased with his good and faithful servant.
What is your foundation? What is it that you build everything else off of? Don’t give me the BS answer that you think I want to hear. Think back to all the times that you felt the need to correct something because “they just don’t get it, those idiots.” Have you felt the need and acted on it? Do you feel like you have to save others from their “false” political doctrines? Do you tell yourself that your politics comes from your religious faith, yet find yourself always voting for one party over the other regardless of who is on the ballot? Have you ever considered the idea that whatever political denomination you align with has made mistakes, is wrong on several issues, has some corrupt people in it, and exists to empower it’s leaders?
How does that match up with your Christian beliefs? What do you do when there is a conflict between your politics and your faith? Which one gives in to the other? Which one do you rationalize away in order to make the two align with each other?
When will this end? When will faith be the foundation of our lives? The thing that really determines how we live and interact with each other?
If politics is our salvation, then we know what to expect – division, violence, war, power struggles, corruption. In other words hell on earth.
Or would we rather have the Kingdom of God? Don’t tell me your answer, just start living it out. Be a citizen of heaven. Start living it out in some simple ways. Start living it out by passing by without comment on those memes on Facebook that you disagree with. When we respond and try to correct, we only give credibility to simplistic solutions and emotionally charged rhetoric. You are not the savior – that job has already been taken. Start living it out by talking with respect with people you disagree with – recognize that a disagreement is not a personal attack, but rather a difference of policy and differences are where we can explore the truth and actually come to some sort of solutions. Usually differing opinions are based on some element of truth – seek out those truths. Start living it out by checking the facts when you hear something that sounds too good to be true. Start living it out by really listening to what is being said. Is the rhetoric based on fear and anger or is based on love and respect. If the rhetoric the person is offering is based in fear and anger, talk with them and find out where it comes from. In other words, stop arguing over ideas and start actually caring for this person as a fellow human being. In a word – offer love. Don’t expect to receive it in return. In fact, you may receive hate. The god of Politics is a hungry god and demands constant sacrifices.
You are citizens of heaven, a Child of God. Citizenship comes with responsibility. God gives us faith and grace and tells us to go and share it with others. We are to take up our cross and follow Jesus, not take up our keyboard or political poster in the interest of being right. There is more to life than politics. Way more.