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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Maybe whoever said not to talk about politics or religion in social conversation was on to something.

Twice in as many days, I have read a string of comments and counter-comments on Facebook that have, in my estimation, amounted to a verbal spat. In both cases, the precipitating issue was political.   I must confess that I have, on occasion, “vented” in my own Facebook status or in this blog about things political.  I have also from time to time raised a question about someone’s strongly expressed opinion, just to pose another possibility. Mostly, though, I appreciate the uplifting and encouraging comments that I regularly read on Facebook–and I feel that a few minutes have been well-spent if I can be on the giving as well as receiving end of some each day.   So, I was quite surprised at the vehemence bordering on meanness that came through in the “conversations” I observed. And I was grieved.

In both cases, the “Facebook fights” I encountered appeared to have erupted over either a) a difference of opinion or b) a misunderstanding of what someone said.  What do we do in face-to-face conversations when either of those situations occurs?  If the goal is to be diplomatic or gracious or really to understand, we ask a question.  In the news feed eruptions, instead of being asked a question, the commenter was jumped on verbally, and, most surprisingly to me, was the object of name-calling.

I grieve because the “fights” were started and perpetuated by Christ-followers.  I have no way of knowing if those to whom the counter-comments were directed were also Christ followers.  But, I’m pretty sure Facebook fights are not an application of the Golden Rule or the command to love our neighbors.  And, if it matters if we are winsome in matters political, we will never get there by ugly argumentation with our fellow travelers.  Even in perilous times when the truth seems to be a rare commodity, we stand to gain more ground by speaking the truth in love to those who disagree with us than by screaming the truth at them in high-pitched voices.

We live in troubled and troubling times.  It’s putting people on edge.  It’s sending some people over the edge.  Some are lining up on the edge.  Many are lining up on opposing edges.  But, we need to seek not to let it make us edgy with each other.

Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer every man….” (Colossians 4:6)

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The first time I think I ever did anything that could be considered “activist”, in the commonly understood sense, was back in the 80’s.  When the opportunity presented itself, I joined with a group of up to maybe ten people who peacefully picketed the local abortion clinic one Saturday morning a month.  We carried signs with pro-life messages, occasionally carried on conversations with each other, silently prayed as we walked, and gratefully gave thumbs up or acknowledging waves to people who honked to affirm the message of life.  My husband and children usually spent that time at the public library, located kitty-corner from the abortion clinic.  (I wonder what their recollections of those Saturday mornings are.)

My friend Janice was the catalyst to my involvement as a political activist.  She urged me to “run” for a precinct committeeman position, and that was my initiation into the way grassroots politics work.  I have to admit that I’ve spent a freezing cold first Tuesday of November morning or two with my school-age children (civics education!), standing outside a polling place, telling voters that the candidate I supported would appreciate their vote when they pulled the lever/pushed the button. (Not legal to do that anymore–I hope it was then.)  I have made phone calls and knocked on doors in GOTV (Get Out the Vote) efforts.  Sometime my candidate won, sometimes he lost.

I got goosebumps and tears when I attended the huge support-the-troops Rally for America up at the Kruse Auction Park in Auburn, IN, several years ago when the Afghanistan/Iraq War on Terrorism was just heating up.  I don’t know that my school-age son recalls the event with great fondness, but it was the right place for our family to be on that day…

dscf01682That’s how it was today.  I attended the local “Tea Party” to add my sign and my voice to those of my fellow Americans who have had enough of what is currently trying to be passed off as “government” and who stand ready to act with courage and persistence to bring change that will preserve and advance liberty, not deconstruct and weaken it.  (There’s an album of images from the event on my Facebook page.)

I don’t list these things here to brag or boast.  But I was trying to analyze if they have a common thread.  I think they do.  It is…belief.  I believe life is sacred and that, from the moment of conception, that which it is politically correct to call a “fetus” is a living human being–a baby.  I believe in government of the people, by the people, for the people.  I believe the men and women who have volunteered to put their lives on the line to purchase and maintain my freedom should have the support and undying gratitude of all their fellow citizens and their government.I believe in the republican form of government that has been established in the Constitution of the United States of America and that it does not come without cost, without eternal vigilence and a focus on what is true and right.  So…I act.  I speak.  I affirm.  I persuade.

Question to myself:  Am I as ardent an activist for the Cause Which Matters Most?  I believe in God, and in His Son Jesus as the only Savior and Hope for sinful mankind.  I believe in grace offered to all who believe that Jesus died to take the punishment that all of us who are sinners–that’s everyone, Folks, if we take the Bible’s word on it–deserve, and that it can be mine if I accept it as a gift I can’t repay from a God whose love for me knows no bounds.  That is everyday belief for me.  So–what is my everyday activism that goes along with it?  I know this–a sign or a picket or a rally won’t cut it.  This belief is bound up in relationship with the Creator God of the universe and His Son, the Savior of the world.  So my activism must follow suit–it must be bound up in relationship with those with whom I interact, those to whom I speak, with words affirming and persuasive.

What does it look like to be an activist for that belief?

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“I have a question for you, when we’re done with this,” said one of my fifth-grade religious education students today.  I admired his mature ability to discern that asking his question right then would have disrupted the flow of what we were talking about.

When we finished our lesson on The Lord’s Prayer, I returned to Keyontay and his question:  “Who are you going to vote for for president?”

Gulp!  I have learned the hard way that there are some questions you don’t answer directly in religious education class.  This is one of them. 

Searching for a good answer that wouldn’t seem evasive, this is what I said (Whenever I come home with some delicate question a religious ed student has come up with, Michael’s next question to me is always, “Well, what did you say?”, so I’ll save you asking.):  “I’m not going to tell you who I’m voting for, except to say that the person I wanted to vote for is no longer running.  But, here’s a more important question:  Why would you vote for whoever you’re voting for?  I think you have to look at two things when you’re voting for a president.  First, what kind of person is this?  Is he honest?  Can he be trusted?  Has she shown herself to be wise?  What a person is like in personal affairs will have a bearing on how he acts in public life.  Second, is this person qualified for the job?  Does this person have the experience, wisdom, and skills that are needed to do the things a president is called on to do?  ”  

Nobody argued with that.  I heard a few “I’d vote for Obama” comments, and then class was over.  (Whew!)

So, what did I leave out?  That’s my question for you. 

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