Friends, this is both hard and easy to write.
I have been heartbroken over the state of this election. Just sick. With how angry people are. With how uninformed people’s gut reactions are. With how we are not setting the agenda with our own questions or looking beyond ourselves for a common good but just fearing. On all sides. There is real contempt for real people being fomented here. And I can’t sleep because of it.
I have friends and people I love dearly on all sides of the political spectrum. And in the past I have thought – great! There are very good ideas on all sides as to how to take care of us best. Some ideas are more limited than others. Some include more people in the “best”scenario. Some bring out our best nature and some bring out our low nature. But there was an….understanding…. that we all wanted the same thing. Safe communities, equipped schools, economic stability and growth not for its own end but so that we could all have a thriving quality of life. We could trust that the people representing us and the people who live around us want us all to have that chance.
I think there is something different going on though. There are seeds of hatred and fear that are being sown. There is no room for any different thought in the public sphere. There is no room for discussion and growth and for our opinions to change. We are all so harshly trying to prove something. There is no actual community or actual value in what is happening to our Country. I see this everywhere. I am free in Canada – free to vote and drive and work. I am free to stay home with my kids or work at a job I’m amazing at. I am free to fill my mind with garbage tv 6 hours a day and to feed my children crap if I want. I am free to go to church and to choose education for my kids that suits them best. What I am not free to do is raise a dissenting opinion. Not without being sworn at or my humanity torn apart or my faith called suspect. I am not free to talk and ask questions and try to understand someone else’s point of view. I am not free to hold a multitude of opinions at once. I am not free to hold a human being in love even if we don’t agree with how to best stimulate economic growth and take care of the least. And that lack of freedom does not come from anywhere good.
I look to Jesus – Jesus, where are you in this? How do we navigate this. My values tell me one thing but other people’s values are seemingly telling them the opposite. Are you in our values? Where are you in this? Are you in our discussions? Our facebook posts? Our rallies? Are you helping us to navigate what we are so afraid of as well as a deep love for our neighbor? I’m not seeing it. Where are you? Do you care? Part of me asks if you do. Some of my faith-filled friends stay away from politics because it is too frought with derisive division. It hurts them so they just keep looking inwards and imply that Jesus would stay out of it. Which is what I want to do. But I can’t because people are being hurt and its making us brittle and harsh and a shell of who we could be. We are all being diminished in devastating ways by words and by deeds and by an inability to come together even when we are different.
My church is in the process of merging with another church. Two communities with similar-ish values but in some corners, very different ways of doing things and very different opinions on what is important. But we are in the process of coming together. Because we feel that there is a need to meet and grow and discuss and even change a little bit together. We all have to lay aside what we think is THE most important issue, (Worship styles! Preaching styles! Less programs! More programs! Bigger bagel tables! Smaller bagel tables! Christ everywhere! Christ in select Zondervan products only! (that was a joke, k?)) and see things from their point of view. We have to be willing for it to be messy and at times untenably awkward for this growth to happen. We have to listen so hard and so kind and to have hard conversations. We have to seriously wrestle with hard issues. We, for some reason, believe that Christ is calling us to see each other and see where He is in each other and then to make decisions based on that. Not based on who talks the loudest and definitely not based on fear. We are not called to forget who we are and what values we hold but we are called to open those up and see where the input of others can lead to a greater vision and a greater representation of where Jesus is working – at all times.
Is there a leader bringing you to love someone else, even greater than yourselves. And is your leader calling you to step out of your own worry and frantic scrambling for resources and lean into the trust and take care of those who need help. Are the leaders bringing greater peace and trust and love and kindness– oh so precious fruit? No? Probably not one of them are.
But He is.
And while we can look to Him and still believe in varying ways to stimulate economic growth or to take care of those who are most vulnerable and argue effectively and passionately about that, we cannot look to Him and treat each other like garbage. In no way. We cannot look to Him and then look at The Other and choose to give in to fear and to contempt. We cannot look to Him and not SEE these other people in all their God- created beauty and goodness.
Words matter. What we say to each other and how we say it matters. If there is to be any fostering of love and trust and flourishing, it matters absolutely in our parenting. It matters absolutely in our marriages. It matters absolutely in our churches. It matters absolutely in our public discourse.
We are not separate groups fighting for only our right to live our way with our purposes and predilictions as the most important, damn the rest. That is not what we are as families, as a church, as a country. That way will not lead to anything good. Followed through to its logical conclusion it will lead to civil war, to a dehumanizing of The Other and then of ourselves. It will lead us to not even consider the damage we do to another’s body and soul. Read your history books, look in your own closets. We are one body. Poet Shane Koyczan put it well when he wrote to the effect of we are one body, one bird with two wings. If one wing rips off the other, the whole thing will go down. We are not a body with different parts fighting for supremacy by cutting off all the other parts. We need all our parts. We need artists, we need engineers, we need people to get our resources to market, we need people to think of the best way to do that while we steward our earth well. We need to spend money and we need to save money. We need teachers and the people who count the money and crunch the numbers. And we need the people who dream and the people who stand way out in left field prophesying, calling us back to our heart of hearts, to our God who creates us ALL anew, over and over, cause we ALL are so easily off the mark.
Vote, talk about why you are voting, be passionate.
DO NOT let fear lead you into contempt.
DO let your love for your family and for your community and for those who are the least in this world guide your decisions. There is no fear in love.
And in case you were wondering where I stand on all this I’ll just say this:
Last week I had a dream that I worked for Preston Manning and while I was working for him was asked to write an essay on environmental practices for Tom Mulcair and then all three of us were off to Justin Trudeau’s wedding. Seriously. I have fabulously weird dreams 🙂
Love you all.