I used to like politics. For a period of my life I worked as a lobbyist and I loved it. Democracy and citizenship excited me. I believed in the democratic power to build God’s kingdom of peace and justice through cooperative problem solving. I appreciated the diverse perspectives. It seemed that every person in every party had the same vision: peace, liberty and security for the common good. For the most part, people of all political parties still seem to be motivated by a common desire: creating a country where everyone is better off (even if the route to get there is completely different).
Lately, though, politics has sickened me. The debate isn’t interesting, it’s predictable. The squabble sounds horrible. Some of the behavior (of adults!) reminds me of the bad habits of junior high students. We put-down others, we tease, we say mean and untrue things just to make ourselves look better. I frequently feel disheartened that adults aren’t modeling peaceful, cooperative, problem-solving for our youth. What are the children learning from us?
When I was a child attending public school, I was taught a basic American value: we are supposed to care for others even if they are different from us. I don’t remember adults showing me anything different. Tolerance for diversity is supposed to be what our country is made out of.
For Christians, it’s even tougher and goes much deeper; we are called to LOVE everyone, even our enemies. Love is a lot more self-giving and challenging than caring alone. As stated by Thomas Merton “Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether they are worthy. This is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody’s business. What we are asked to do is love, and this love itself will render both our neighbors and ourselves worthy if anything can.”
I am hoping and praying that Christians can really love others, even if they are in a different political party or have a totally different worldview. Let’s love! Then perhaps the energy of love will transform all of us to be the people we’re made to be, like Merton suggests. By the grace of God, I believe we could even reunite and work together for the common good once again!