Tomorrow is primary election day in Illinois…my (very troubled) state. As the debacle around last week’s protest of Trump in Chicago illustrated, it has the potential to be unstable—and, let’s face it—there’s no getting around the fact that, so far, this presidential election has been nonsensical on many levels.
I will cast my vote not only with my head, but with my heart and faith, as well. In fact, I’m not even sure that those last two can be separated, can they? Many elections make this kind of internal “unification” very difficult or impossible…but not this one. Not for me.
My goal in my writing today is not to be divisive—Lord knows there is already a rift as big as the Mariana Trench in our polarized society. It is because of this divisiveness that I initially begged off of writing about our political landscape.
But the reality is…I can’t silence my heart on such an important topic.
My walk in life has led me to be a bit of a lone wolf in ways. For many years I worked in the secular world where people knew I was Christian because they knew me—and it is a part of who I am. While I didn’t seek to “witness” my faith, I didn’t hide it, either.
Then, on the flipside, I spent even more years as a rare liberal in a very conservative environment. Let’s just say it made for interesting lunch conversations.
I don’t like keeping quiet if it means that I am assumed to be part of “everybody’s” ideology, so I have historically “outed” myself whenever I feel like I’m being lumped into something I’m not.
Which is why, as a Christian, my goal here is to share how my faith will decide my vote. A vote that some people assume will go one specific way.
I’m not going to name names of candidates, though I doubt it will be much of a mystery.
The United States government is broken in numerous ways. Private money holds power and directs votes in ways our founding fathers (and mothers) would weep over. Tax money is misappropriated and misspent. Voters are disenfranchised. Districts are gerrymandered to weaken opposition. Religion is used to intimidate and separate. Corruption is pervasive. We’re a mess on many…many…levels.
We truly do need to make some significant, drastic changes if we want to be the legitimate democracy that we hold so fast to in our patriotic hearts.
How we get there, though, is a response in which there is a stark categorical divide.
For some people it means exclusion, exemption, and reduction.
For others, it means inclusion, equality, and…yes…expansion.
And, of course, there are those who want some from both factions.
I recently read something that I loved. It said that Christians shouldn’t ask themselves the old WWJD? but rather what would a follower of Jesus do? Point being that Jesus was perfect and…we are not. But we can do what he commands. Can and should if one is indeed a follower, right?
Well, then…let’s take a look at what Jesus himself said are the two greatest commandments:
‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. (Matt. 22:37-40, NIV)
Now, which of those two camps do you think does the better job of loving our neighbor as ourselves?
For me, it is obviously, utterly, and clearly the one that stands for inclusion, equality, and expansion.
I know deep in my heart that as a follower of Jesus I should vote for those who are striving to care for all—whether it’s universal healthcare, education, support programs, equity, or justice.
I also know that helping others doesn’t kill capitalism, though it will certainly require continued taxation. But Jesus supported taxes, too. And while taxes are necessary—if we moved toward more equitable policies, that burden wouldn’t feel so heavy. Doing away with patronage and pork barrel spending would also go a long way to making sure our tax dollars are spent as they are truly intended—again lessening the burden.
If those who represent us stopped jamming up any progress that might look good for “the other side,” and instead genuinely worked together for the common good, well then…we might actually get somewhere.
But they (…and we?) are all too far away from that collaborative mindset. Far. Away.
For sure, there is no “perfect” candidate, and no platform is flawless, but…the choice is still not difficult for me.
Finger-pointing, wall-building, hate-mongering, punching, jeering, judging, racially discriminating, lying, and misrepresenting, are not qualities that Jesus tolerated, let alone supported. One only has to look to Jesus’ relationship with the Pharisees for more clarity on that.
No…as crazy as this election is shaping up to be, there is a vote that I can—and will—cast that is in line with my heart and my Christian faith.
That is the easy part.
The hard part, for me, is seeing people cheer on a candidate that is so at odds with my heart and faith…and loving them anyway. Because…this is what Jesus commands.
Seeing people who, in their anger and dissatisfaction, follow a bully who is absolutely proud to be a bully…a pied piper who bobs and weaves away from questions of substance and instead offers blather that sadly seems to suffice for his followers…and loving them anyway.
And while I strive to love them anyway, I cannot do so as though what they are rooting for is something I condone. It is not. Perhaps this is another reason I feel compelled to write today. To explain that I’m doing my damnedest to love my neighbor as myself even though some of those neighbors I absolutely, wholeheartedly disagree with.
I have never seen the divide this gaping and wide in my lifetime. I continue to pray that a healthy and healing solution begins to work in our national, collective heart and mind.
Recently, I had a discussion with someone who does not agree with my politics. The conversation was respectful and civilized, and in the end, we both knew that we were not going to change the other’s mind. As we parted, I said to him that the fact that we could agree to disagree and still be friends was really important because it is not happening nearly enough in our society anymore.
On this we could agree.
Even baby steps start with one.
ALL PHOTOS ARE MY OWN OR USED WITH PERMISSION.
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