I suppose at this point that most of you have had it up to the proverbial “here” with politics and any discussion thereof. I have felt a strange absence post-election—no more pundits predicting this outcome or that, no heated debates filling the airways, etc.
I am trying to put absence to good use, however. Pre-election, I participated in a political panel discussion on Taylor’s campus. The topic was civility—how we can discuss and debate issues many of us feel very passionately about without discrediting ourselves, or our Savior. I have been considering some of the things that were said that night and one thing keeps coming back to me, maybe because I said it. In response to a question I sadly don’t remember, I encouraged the students to make sure that their lives reflected their political convictions. That is to say, if you say you are for the poor then make sure you don’t just depend on the government to take care of the poor. If you say you are for freedom of speech, then don’t shut down others when they try to speak.
So I have been thinking about how my life reflects my political convictions and how I can better align those convictions with my everyday life. Here are a few ways I am doing so:
1) I believe that the ultimate solution for our woes as a nation, as the human race is Jesus, so shouldn’t I spend at least as much time listening to people talk about Christ as I do listening to people talk about the right and the left? My kids can rattle off talk radio hosts like nobody’s business, but shouldn’t they be able to rattle off famous pastors and theologians just as easily? So I am trying to listen to Christian radio more. I say “trying” because so much of it is so awful I would rather listen to NPR’s coverage of the Republican Convention, but I am finding some of it very edifying. It has added depth to our car conversations. So no matter what Alistair Begg is saying, I’ll listen. I would happily listen to that man read a telephone book.
2) I have been very critical about the wasteful and truly immoral way our government is frittering away billions of dollars, and yet am I as careful as I ought to be with my own family’s resources? If I want a government that spends wisely, then shouldn’t I be a citizen who spends wisely? We are hardly extravagant people, but when I think of the needs that are out there, I am sure we could do better. I also want to be willing to see government programs from which I benefit, namely public charter schools, cut for the sake of whole, however painful a loss to me personally.
3) I believe in the American republic and the right to elect our governmental officials, but what happens when those elected don’t reflect my positions? Since the election, I have been reminding myself that one side has to lose, and why do I think I have the right to be in the majority? It feels pretty safe to be in the majority and it is easy to talk about democracy then, but what about when you are in the minority? Even if I dislike the outcome, I must respect the process.
Ultimately, all these things add up to this, I want to live a life that makes politics irrelevant. I want to teach my kids, and myself, that the best public service we can perform isn’t done on election day but every day before and after.