A confession: I admit that I used to be disinterested in politics. I know, right? Hard to believe, given the current wacked out race for the presidency. Everyone is paying attention, if for no other reason than to see the latest outrage from the reality TV candidate.
Now I not only keep up, I’ve joined the growing ranks of those who support their candidate of choice with time and money. This election matters, and it seems critical to keep the most important job in our country from falling into the wrong hands.
While I’ve always cared on some level about governmental policies, I have no patience for bureaucratic posturing by those pursuing only their own agendas. Statesmanship, in the current political arena, is seemingly a thing of the past. As is common decency, emotional maturity and respect for others if your name rhymes with Drumpf.
In defense of my former disinterest, I felt it mattered more how I conducted my own affairs, how I went about making a difference in my own community and town. Washington is a long way off. So why not focus on loving my neighbor and those less fortunate and spend my efforts where I could see visible results?
Let me be clear that I still see that as important. There are so many needs everywhere we look that it’s good to plug in somewhere and do what we can. I also see clearly that I have very little influence by myself. It is the people I elect and the policies they enact that impact our nation and the world.
Some who would be king seem to have forgotten that this nation was built on the efforts of little people and immigrants. These are the face of America, not one of white privilege and power. We are who we are because of them, and to talk of closing our doors to any nation, race or religion is anti-American. As we are subjected to diatribes again and again about building walls, the words engraved on the Statue of Liberty are the best rebuttal:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
I was reminded in Christian Century this morning that our President is the face of the nation. Whose face do I want to represent our country? Who do I want to represent me? If I get to choose, I want a face that is strong, self controlled, and compassionate. I want someone of depth and decency, with defined character. I would love to see someone ascending who can be honest about mistakes, take ownership and be a responsible citizen of this planet. I would want that person to love mercy as well as justice, to seek to include the marginalized, and to build bridges rather than walls. I would want a person who seeks humility, who sees all of us as one, and seeks common ground and understanding. As Rohr wrote in his 12 steps for living out the resurrection, someone who “seeks just systems and policies over mere charity.” I hope to support this cause with my vote and my voice.
Charity, which can be defined as love or acts done in the name of love, is a rare and beautiful thing. As valuable for what it does within me as in the world. If we could get that going from top down, how great would that be? It gives me hope. That may be the one thing we need in this multifaceted, multicultural nation of ours to make America really and truly, great.