Politics are messy. I understand that our country is set up to run a certain way and that we have procedures in place to make sure laws are passed and that politicians are put in position to run the country. I get that. But I still think most political stuff out there does more harm than good.
Election years are my LEAST favorite years. I just heard how much money Obama and Romney have raised for their campaigns and it makes me want to throw up. If we put that much energy and resources towards making sure everyone had access to clean drinking water we could vastly improve that problem before we land another President in office (and simultaneously improve international relations). Or, you know, we could implement family preservation so that children aren't orphaned world-wide at alarming rates (including here in the US). Or provide consistent medical treatment for curable illnesses that are killing our brothers and sisters just a plane-ride away. Or if that money must stay state-side: create supportive rehabilitation centers where people suffering from life-threatening addictions can actually go to get well and return to society as productive citizens. You know, so we can save money on prisons. Those are just a few things I think might be better than paying for negative campaign ads. But who am I do say?
I usually refrain from putting anything political on facebook or on this blog. Or even talking much about my thoughts around anyone except for those whom I truly trust. Because I have learned the hard way that putting a political idea out there outside of real conversation does not cause anyone to change their mind about the issue at hand; it causes people to change their minds about me. Many of you have already tried to guess at which party I'm in based on the above paragraph. It's only 150 words, but in our society that is more than enough to make a broad judgement about someone and what we think they think. But guess what, I could write another 150 words and then you'd think something completely different.
I see facebook posts on all sides of every issue but there is no way to have an intimate conversation on facebook. It's more like standing on a street corner yelling at cars or holding a sign. It sends more of a message about the yeller than it does about the issue. If you put up a post on facebook about a political leaning, people make a judgement about you based on how you are saying what you're saying. It does little to change minds about the issue you are talking about. I will be honest: if there's hatred or racism or classism or if the message is just plain mean, I make a judgement about YOU, not the candidate you are championing. Maybe that's not nice to say... but it's the truth.
You see, we treat politics like sports in this country. You are either for the Good Guys or you are for the Bad Guys. There's no gray area. And in order to win elections, each side has to paint the other in the bleakest light possible. So the Bad Guys lie (because there's no way the Good Guys would do that). And, because this is our own human nature, we all decide only to listen to the Good Guys and decry anything the Bad Guys might say or do.
I grew up in New England, where it is legally required that you be a Red Sox fan. And that you hate Yankees fans. I'm only half-kidding. Honestly, if I had discovered Rob was a Yankees fan while we were dating, that would have been the end of our relationship (trust me, we barely made it through my realization that he's a Mets fan). I honestly grew up believing that the Yankees were the Bad Guys. It took me until my adulthood to even understand how a decent human being could honestly like the Yankees. I'm not exaggerating. You'll be glad to know I've come a long way... I have a very dear friend who is a Yankees fan and I love her anyway (I'm secretly convinced she knows the error of her ways in her heart).
But that's how we are about politics. Instead of loving each other and working together, as the Bible clearly tell us to do (love your enemies? pray for those who persecute you?), we set up firm lines in the sand. We declare "US vs THEM!" and that any leaning toward the middle-ground is treasonous. We look first to see if someone has an (R) or a (D) next to their name before determining if we like what they have to say. We determine the value and worth of another human being based upon whether they root for the Good Guys or the Bad Guys.
What does this say about us as a nation? More importantly, what does that say about us as Christians? Are we so ignorant as to think that our government is full of Jedis and Sith Lords (sorry, Riley's really into Star Wars and I'm kind of proud that I actually know what those are) - only Good Guys or Bad Guys? Are we sending people into the arms of Jesus by dehumanizing the Bad Guys? Does this show the love of Christ?
I don't care what party you're in. I really don't. I'm not going to tell you what party I'm in. Because it really doesn't matter. My hope is not in government. What matters is how I love you; how I treat those who are "the least of these." I've said this before, but when we stand in front of Jesus to give an account for our lives, he's not going to ask, "what laws did you lobby for?" or "What politicians' names were on your bumper stickers?" He's going to ask, "where are my people? Where are the ones that you were supposed to love, the ones you were supposed serve and help follow me?"
I pray we re-focus our energies. In my humble opinion, we can bring a lot more glory to God by bringing a cup of coffee to a homeless person on a chilly morning than we can by exerting our energy bashing groups of people who disagree with us.