So You Think Winning at Candyland Actually Matters
A Plea For Perspective
Dear friends on the religious right. Some of whom are beloved readers here. (Yes, I have conservative friends. They are dear sincere people who care deeply about others, their families, this country, and the world. Just as many of my friends who would define themselves as more moderate or liberal care deeply about others, their families, this country, and the world.)
|Totally borrowed this from Fox news. They won't mind.|
First, please just stop watching Fox news and all of it's affiliates for a couple of days, ok? Don't tell me that they are the only station reporting the truth anymore. They are a multimillion dollar conglomerate whose business it is to make money. If they can get more of you to tune in and watch everyday by making you paranoid and expressing such polarizing views that you can't help but be sucked in through fear, they will. Because then they make more money. It's all about money. Just like all of the other news networks.
At least do me a favor and give equal time to different stations and perspectives, so that you can begin to see through the hype and understand that the fear is the same, from all of them. It's just different things they tell you to be afraid of. You do know that they are selling fear on the other side too, right? "Be terrified of what will happen if the religious right get their way. We will go back to the dark ages. Women will have no right to say what happens to their bodies anymore. You won't have healthcare when you're sick. They will cut all programs that care for the poor and destitute. There is a war on women. The GOP has no compassion."
Please step away from the fear mongering, all of you, on both sides. Please recognize that the truth lies somewhere on a completely different spectrum.
There, ok. Deep breaths. Let go of the fear.
Now, what is left?
You don't like the president. Ok.
You disagree with his fiscal policies. All right then.
Is the world going to end in the next 4 years? Probably not.
Is there a chance that you won't like what this country looks like at the end of it? Maybe. Just remember the legislative process is remarkably slow. Which is kind of on purpose, to keep things from getting out of hand.
Is your security supposed to come from the fact that the party you prefer wields the political power in the country you live in? Not even remotely!
You want abortion to be illegal again. Let's think about this. When has an antiabortion president in the Whitehouse actually accomplished anything in terms of reducing the number of abortions? Since Roe vs. Wade I mean. What do you actually expect to happen if your candidate was elected? I mean, there is still an entire legislative process to go through. What are the odds you are actually going to get the legislation you want? Remember that this country just elected, by what appears to be clear majority, a pro abortion, pro gay marriage president. How do you expect an ever shrinking minority to get such a bill to pass?
Perhaps I shouldn't have picked such a hot button issue as an example, but here's my point. If you are playing at politics, and believing that victory in the political arena = victory for the kingdom of God you are sorely mistaken.
Do you remember Jesus? He refused to play any of the games that everyone else was playing. He played an entirely different game, and by an entirely different set of rules. You are called to do the same.
You see, making abortion illegal again isn't going to stop women from having abortions. It didn't before it was legal. You aren't going to change people by changing laws.
Do I believe that every abortion is a tragedy? Absolutely!
But I've learned a few things over the years. One of those is that trying to control people is a mistake. God gave people freedom, therefore they are free, and the choices they make are theirs, and they are responsible for them. Trying to legislate this country back toward the way it used to, or ought to, be is a futile effort. That is trying to use laws to control behavior, to control people.
The religious right has become so obsessed with controlling behavior through legislation in the claim to fight for freedom that they have forgotten what their real mission is. (Both sides do that exact same thing, claim to fight for freedom by limiting people's choices through legislation.)
You see, the kingdom of God is not red states vs. blue states. It's not fiscal conservatives vs. big government spending. It's not even prolife vs. prochoice.
The kingdom of God is the followers of Jesus vs. no one. It's loving everyone. It's never dismissing a woman who's situation is so complicated that abortion seems like a viable option as a baby killer. It's loving her enough to walk through the pain she is feeling with her. To love her no matter her choice, even if it's not the one you wanted her to make. And to give her all the support you are able, to help her actually feel free to choose without fear.
It's loving the friend who voted for Obama, and honoring the ways that they are moved by the democratic rhetoric of caring for all of those who struggle. Even if you think it's total BS and that the actual policies will do the opposite. It's realizing that you have more in common with people on the other side of the polls than not, and choosing to care about them as people.
It's loving that gay couple with the giant happy smiles on their faces as they come down the courthouse steps, and remembering that God loves them just as much as He loves you.
It's letting go of hate and fear and winning the hearts and minds of people through loving them.
It's rolling up your sleeves and personally attending to the needs you see, rather than waiting for the government to do it for you. It's caring for those in need. It's loving those who are alone. It's the opposite of the polarizing fundamentalist positions that drive a wedge through this nation on both sides of the aisle.
The culture wars are over. You lost. Now how about we get back to what is really important, loving our neighbor as ourselves. How about we stop villainizing people and start treating them as individuals who are worthy of love and respect? Even if we disagree with them.
How about we start listening to opinions other than our own and actually having a dialogue rather than a shouting match? Every time someone does that they eventually discover common ground.
How about, and here is the kicker, we stop believing that politics is a war between good and evil and all that disagree with us are on the side of evil?
How about we step back and stop playing the game, and do the real work of the kingdom instead?
Who's with me?
This post caused a lot of discussion and I found a few things needed clarification. Please see the follow up post When Winning at Politics Means Losing Something Better