I started to college as a non-traditional student with the encouragement of my partner TruDee in 1990 by taking nightly outreach classes from a Community College in Southwest Kansas. I had already been lay speaking and filling pulpits around the area for four or five years but at that point really had no interest in going into the ministry.
I remember the pastor of my home church in Johnson, who had been telling me I needed to consider ministry, asking what I thought I would do with my degree when I finished my undergraduate work. I told him I was considering public service of some kind, perhaps politics or even running for office. He would always chuckle and say, “See you should go into the ministry, there is plenty of politics in the church!” And the rest is history.
I write this pondering today as a reflection on our most recent election cycle this last Tuesday. Those who know me well, and perhaps even some who do not, could probably guess how I voted and are perhaps pretty clear about the issues I am passionate about, which is not what I want to ponder this morning.
This past campaign season, though I recognize it is not anything new on several levels, just seemed particularly mean spirited, regardless of what side of politics one sits on. The deliberate misleading information that was spread, images and language that elicited fear rather than what the candidate planned to do if they were elected; people, friendships, family, flags, religion, and influence being used in political posturing rather than honored and appreciated. Ads and language that had absolutely nothing to do with the particular candidate but were designed to do nothing but attack the character of the other person, not to mention just the outright, bold faced lies. All of this, not to mention as soon as they are elected they focus their energies on getting reelected the next go around rather than actually doing the work for the good of all the people of our good nation.
I suppose on some level there will be those who say it is just human nature. Power and money, money and power bring out the worst in our fellow human beings and it is what we should expect. I am sorry I do not have that low of view of humanity. Perhaps I live with rose colored glasses and am too idealistic, but I do not think it is unreasonable to expect leaders of our country to act civilly, honestly, respectfully, and with integrity regardless of who they are working with whether they agree with them or not. If they are not able to do that, they are not trying and they certainly are not leading. It makes me mourn our political process when supposed leaders would rather spend their campaign impugning the character of their opponent rather than simply stating what they plan to do if elected and how they will make our country better for all its citizens. And voters are complicit in the guilt of the process because we participate in and buy what they are selling!
I think though, if I were able to get past the vitriol attacks, the distortions of the truth, and the outright lies, which I do not suppose I ever will, one of the things that disgusts me most is the money. The idea that those who have the resources can in essence buy elections and politicians is horrendous enough, but the mind boggling amounts that are used to elect our government officials is obscene.
I did not do a lot of deep research in regards to the elections but just surface looking found that for the last two election cycles, 2012 and 2014, it is estimated the campaigns cost somewhere over ten billion dollars…ten BILLION dollars! Think about that and let it sink in. I would venture to say, anyone who is celebrating the election of their candidate over another after spending billions of dollars while poverty, discrimination, hunger, healthcare, etc, etc, etc, continue to be a problem, does not understand the problem. Our political machine is not just broken it is terminal. I would suggest that this kind of continued excessive waste of money on campaigns is not sustainable and is a symptom of a soulless system that will one day devour itself into oblivion.
I do not have any fast and wisdom laden answers other than looking to my own journey of education, politics, and faith. Thinking back on the beginnings of my college aspirations I am glad now I did not choose the path of politics, I would not have survived in the political beast we have created, that and my pastor was right, there is plenty of politics in our church that keeps me on my toes, passionate, cynical, and frustrated enough! I often think of the words from Micah and what the prophet believed the Spirit requires of us, “to do justly, to love kindness, and to walk humbly,” Lord have mercy, what would that look like in our political process if we could do that regardless of religious or non-religious/party affiliation.
As disgusted as I am with the political monster we have created in this country I not one to give up hope. I trust and know corruption, money, power, oppression, lies, and deceit do not have the last word. One day love, justice, and compassion will rule the day and so until it is a reality I will continue to work toward that ideal.
Last evening at our Pub Theology gathering I was trying to remember the quote from Paul in one of his letters as we were lamenting the political process and the recent elections and I had to come home to find it. With these words I will close this most recent ponderous rant; “We are experiencing all kinds of trouble, but we are not crushed. We are confused, but we are not depressed. We are harassed, but we are not abandoned. We are knocked down, but we are not knocked out.” And as we continue to stand and speak to the cause and vision we claim may we always, “Do Justice, Love Kindness, and Walk Humbly with our God.” One day, one day it will be so…May it be soon. May it be soon.
Peace and Light on Your Journey…