Since turning 18, I have had a vague awareness of politics. I mean, of course I know it exists, but I’ve avoided engaging in conversations that were remotely politically related. Every so often I’d make a comment about something I thought, but for the most part, I remained tight-lipped and even shut my brain off to it. Kind of like an ostrich that puts its head in the sand.
Why? The anger and meanness! The rash “you’re an idiot!” or worse comments that people will say if someone doesn’t agree with them. The inability of so many people to see that ultimately you’re both working toward the same goal (well, for the most part as I’m sure there are some who aren’t) of a better America and just don’t go about it in the same way. As opposed to sharing opinions and thoughts in a rationale, caring manner, people often end up wound tighter than a spring and lash out horrendous things! It’s so not appealing. So I chose to stick my head in the sand and hide behind an urging of our first President, Washington:
"The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party dissension, which in different ages & countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders & miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security & repose in the absolute power of an Individual: and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty." — George Washington, September 19, 1796
Don’t get me wrong, I have opinions and beliefs, I’ve just avoided doing any amount of due diligence in determining what these meant and how they should influence my voting. Why? Fear. Fear that I’d engage and end up falling into what I so desperately wanted to avoid. So instead, I’d vote purely based on what I thought I should, based on what other people who follow Christ do, but not spending any time considering what I thought Christ wanted me to do and instead considering what I thought man wanted me to do.
But something has changed. In a funny, very random way.
I’ve become addicted to a good television show called Scandal (if you haven't seen it, watch it. It's awesomely addicting). I wasn’t familiar with the main actress, so was doing a little research on her to see if I’d seen any other films she was in, a common practice of mine. In doing so, I watched an interview she did with some news program (I don’t remember which). I’ve learned that she’s a big political advocate, and in this particular interview she made a comment that has really stuck with me, “you may not think about politics, but politics is thinking about you.” She also said that when she turned 18, her parents made a special celebration that she was of age to vote, celebrating the Americans who fought for our rights to vote. I thought that was so powerful.
This interview sparked something in me to get informed and get involved. In doing so, though, I’ve come to some realizations that I kind of love and that excite me!
1. People have fought hard for my right to vote – as a free person and as a woman. As I saw in Girl Rising, women in other nations are often stripped of their voices, as they were in this nation once before, and I have a commitment to support those women in being active and engaged
2. I have a heart for the “least of these” and I have an opportunity to give them a voice or support them further in my voting as well
3. No political party is perfect and there are some contradictions between them; therefore, I will remain detached from a particular party, but I will say, I do have leanings that may surprise some folks
4. Along with that, politics is messy! Everything rolls together and nothing is fast. Quick fixes will not work for long-term results and the issues are complicated with layers of history and experiences folded in. And some things I can’t possibly understand based on my upbringing, socio-economic status, and race/ethnicity so it’s not wise to assume I have all the answers (and vice versa), but I can do my due diligence to investigate and form beliefs and opinions
5. As I vote, I have a responsibility to live-out what I say, to care for the people I aim to support, to love those who’s opinions may differ from mine, and to continually challenge myself to think and see things differently. And, it's super fun to challenge my own thinking by reading opinions that differ from mine so I have a different perspective and empathy for different thoughts
6. Ultimately, like everything, this is one more proof point in why it is crucial for me to continually seek the throne of Christ in how I should vote with each election (and in how I should respond outside of that in conversation). This is crucial for me to remain grounded, not get angry, and to remind myself that God is sovereign! It’s also a reminder to pray continually for our elected officials, knowing God is not surprised by who is in-power, the issues that come-up, or the political leanings of the country
My friend, Jen, has a prayer calendar of sorts in which she dedicates specific days to praying for specific things. I’ve thought about that since she mentioned it a while back, and so wrote-out my own little calendar. Saturday will be devoted to praying for our government officials and my own heart as it relates to this subject. I’m quite excited!
So, I am jumping-in to thinking about politics. And doing so detached from a party so I can continually check my heart.
And, kind of related, I saw a screening of the movie The Butler last night. So, so good. See it. It's a beautifully powerful story of a horrendous time in our nation's history, but ends on a ray of hope.