Last week and this week are like the Super Bowl for politics and politicians – it’s the political party conventions here in the US. There are like the Super Bowl in so many ways. People watch the Super Bowl for the ads. In the conventions, the speeches are the ads. How else to explain all the wonderful words that will be spewed in favor of the nominee who the speaker hopes to get a job from in their administration.
The Super Bowl has a ton of analysis and speculation of what plays will be made and who will start and who will play the whole game and yada-yada-yada. The conventions are filled with journalists and party hacks and spin doctors doing the same thing. In politics the speculation is about what the speakers will say, who’s talked about for what position in the potential administration, yada-yada-yada.
The Super Bowl has a lot of glitz and glitter – There is plenty of trash to clean up from conventions too. Sometimes the trash comes in the form of some of the speeches at conventions. You know, clean up from a poor or dull speech, or when there are issues with a speech. Oh, I don’t know, maybe something like plagiarism – but that’s just a crazy example. Who would do such a thing?
The Super Bowl usually ends up being predictable. You know who is going to be nominated at the conventions.
The Super Bowl features the two teams who were able to pull off wins during the playoffs – not necessarily the best or the strongest teams. The convention features candidates who did the same thing during the primaries.
The Super Bowl is watched by a lot of people who don’t care about the teams playing, they do it because, well, because…everyone else is watching and I guess you are supposed to. Oh yeah, it’s “fun” watching teams you don’t care about play in the year’s biggest game – wishing your team was there and saying to your friends: yeah, well, there’s always next year. Lots of fun. Or, maybe it’s the social aspect of getting together with people, some of them die hard fans who would support the team even if Satan were the quarterback. It gives you an excuse to drink in public, pretend you care about the game, but in fact you’re really just there to eat all the food other people brought.
The conventions…oh hell, there’s the same thing. Be honest.
I usually watch the Super Bowl – although not always. Sometime I even have a team to cheer for. I used to be a fan of NFL football. I even had a team that I cheered for. I was passionate about the team. I stuck with them through thick and thin. But then I saw past all of that and saw the reality – the NFL is a money making machine that doesn’t have a lot of concern for the players and really only cares about them and the fans so far as they can make a buck (or millions) from them. The NFL is a non-profit, yet is extremely profitable.
I used to watch the conventions. I even had a party that I cheered for. I was loyal to the party – worked my butt off for the party and the candidates. I was passionate about the party. I stuck with them through thick and thin. But then I opened my eyes and acknowledged reality – the political parties are power grabbing and power maintenance machines that don’t have a lot of concern for the people of the country and really only care about them so far as they can get a vote or donation from them.
Yet, like the Super Bowl, you have die hards: People who drink the cool-aid. They will rationalize away all the negatives and insanity. They do it in the name of being right. Because being right is important for humans. Being right means that someone else is wrong. And we all know that in the US, there are only these two options. So we set up systems that allow us to think we are right and the other side is wrong. And we sit by happily in our rightness. We use language that softens what we really think or what we want to do, or what we do to our opponents and enemies. We talk about defeating our opponents and/or enemies. That’s so quaint isn’t it? It’s like we’re playing a game.
The problem though is, this isn’t a game. This is life and there are consequences.
Being right isn’t just about having the facts on your side. It’s an attitude I’m talking about here. It’s a you’d-better-get-on-board-or-else attitude. An attitude of egotism. And attitude of I’m-right-and-you’re-wrong-you-idiot.
Being right, being really committed to a specific set of beliefs, to the point of not questioning them and seeing anyone who does as the enemy, has some real consequences. When being right aligns with political party or politician, that can start to be dangerous. When being right takes priority over governing and leading all people – even those you disagree with – the results are devastating.
Being right has brought more death, destruction, and lives ruined than anything else. Being right in the name of God, country, party, demagogue, politician, ideology, patriotism, etc. ends up being wrong in history. It doesn’t matter how right you were in terms of facts when your concern with being right leads to destruction and death. If your ideas and beliefs about what is right can’t stand on their own, can’t handle questions and criticisms, but requires force and compliance – then they are weak and ultimately wrong.
Let’s be and live rightly instead. Living rightly doesn’t force itself onto anyone. Lives are changed when that happens – yours and those that you touch. Living rightly doesn’t require force or compliance. Living rightly leaves you open to others and their beliefs about the world. Living rightly has it’s foundation in belief, but it’s a different belief. It’s a belief that claims to know the truth – or at least a part of it, but is open to questioning and doubt and examination. And leaves you open to the possibility that you are wrong. Living rightly is based in humility and accepting the idea that we don’t know everything. Living rightly is based on the idea that we are called to be Christ-like – not believe that we are all-knowing.
So, watch the Super Bowl and the conventions if you want to. Just be careful of what you drink. Don’t drink the cool-aid. It’ll make you sick.