Political shifts, left and right (pt 3): The End State
So at last we come to it. Through part 1, where I talked about my background…through part 2, where I pitched a fairly cynical view of what’s going on…and now on to part 3: the end state.
I have met a lot of people in my years. I’ve tried to absorb as much wisdom and insight as possible through our times together. Sometimes, through, I’ve struggled to find value in certain friends’ perspectives.
For example, one of my old mentors and I have grown apart. He retired from his job and now sends out large amounts of politically-themed emails. You know the sort: Comrade Obama is taking your guns, Obama is about to let the UN take control of the country, the illegals are at our gates and must be beaten back, the Arabs want to kill us all, Obamacare has death panels, climate change is a farce, Obama is a Muslim….
The hate radiates from my screen. I’m urged to rise up (sometimes in outright sedition and treason). I’m urged to fight the good fight. Pundits, right and left, give heartfelt but ultimately melodramatic pleas. Chuck Norris thought Obama and his ilk will now lead us to a thousand years of darkness. While it is the most ridiculous articulated example I’ve seen, the same sentiment is far more common.
With evil, the enemy, ‘them’ at the cusp of world domination, I’m left with little choice but to align my heart toward war. If I was a decent, God-fearing man, I will need to mobilize and undo my emotional peacetime mindset. Stand up for something! Fight! Now!
But are things really so threadbare, especially in the U.S.? What is the right response?
As a supposed man of faith, what sorts of attitudes should I spend time cultivating? I’ve been awash in propaganda from both sides of the political aisle. It has led me to be pretty vocal at times—more than I should. I default to being an action guy, rather than just a blabber of words. Hell, it’s why I joined the Army post-9/11. If not me, who? That sort of thing.
But after dealing with war, dealing with my own demons and dealing with the general state of things, I’m not feeling it. I’m not buying into all the “good vs. evil” rhetoric with our local political squabbles. I’m not going to sew seeds of hate over this stuff.
There is plenty of darkness to fight against in the world, surely. Human trafficking, slavery, unfair trade practices, the rape of the natural world, the violent repression and persecution of people concerning their religious beliefs, disease, the marginalization of groups of people, and rampant exploitation…all are causes to fight for.
But this supposed war on Christmas? You can’t fall over without knocking down a stack of Christian symbols during the season. The supposed removal of prayer from schools? I tried to make a scene about praying as a young man in several states, several times, and nobody cared that I was praying. The strange idol worship of 10 of the 613 Jewish commandments? If you’re going to play the “Keeping the Law” game, you gotta keep ‘em all, remember?
A lot of it seems pretty forced.
“Well if we let ‘them’ win on this one, it’ll just be a matter of time before…”
God is bigger than one nation’s political theater, believe it or not. Think God’s plan was knocked off course when this president took office? What about the last one? What about when that jerk-off Andrew Johnson took over for Lincoln? He never even went to school! THOUSAND YEARS OF DARKNESS! What about when the Populares edged out the Optimates in ancient Rome? Whew, that one almost kept Jesus from being born, right? Those sneaky Populares!
In another 1,000 years (of darkness?), do you think the Kingdom of God is going to be swayed one way or the other because North Carolina let someone list their same-sex spouse on their insurance? Will heaven suddenly cease to exist?
I’m tired of the hate. I’m tired of the dehumanizing, veiled bigotry. It comes across as whining fat children who didn’t get their flavor of ice cream, while the kid next door sleeps in the streets.
But screw my opinion. What does the Christian Bible say about spending our lives smoldering in anger against ‘the man,’ plotting for the overthrow of an administration?
Paul, writing to the believers in Rome. Chapter 12. Even if a group of us is being persecuted (as in beaten and killed, not told our Christmas lights are too bright), we’re supposed to bless those who come after us—not curse. Gandhi even got that one right.
Romans 13. We’re to calm down, honor our government and pay our taxes. This was written to the believers in Rome—not exactly the most pious of regimes—nor the most fair in tax rates. And yet, there it is. Chill out.
Christ also kinda maybe exactly says this in the gospels of Matthew and Mark. Give to God what is God’s, and give to Caesar what is Caesar’s. This was said in the midst of a violent, brutal occupation of God’s people by a pagan government.
Paul, writing to Titus. Chapter 3. Calm down, do what is good. Live in peace. Don’t spend your energy on foolish controversies and quarrels about the law. Because it is unprofitable and useless (not necessarily incorrect…you can be right and still waste everybody’s time).
Peter’s first recorded letter, writing to the scattered believing Jews of the Near East. Chapter 2. Submit to the authorities. Focus on doing right—on doing good. And you’ll silence foolish people.
For the sake of keeping this blog post under 30,000 words, yes I cherry picked verses, but tear into me in the comments if I’ve missed the gist of it.
The world’s powers come and go, but movements of the Spirit remain. Christianity didn’t start out as a religion, it started out as a way of life—where people were known for the hope they had and their love for each other and strangers. It overthrew regimes not by the sword, but by love. Sort of like how Christ did it. Pretty trippy.
Now is it all going to be roses and candy canes? No, of course not. Ephesians 6:12 is pretty clear on that.
But cool it on the hate. When we’re on the other side, at the Bema Seat, it won’t be a tally of how many Facebook arguments we won, or how many dirty poor people we kept from getting more money. Nope. Any kudos for our lives will be attributed to how many children we fed, how many prisoners we visited, and how many strangers we comforted in the hospitals, in Christ’s name.
It takes a lot more courage to love people than it does to hate them. Takes more restraint to listen than to shout someone down.