Monday, November 5, 2018

I Want To Understand

Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood. -Marie Curie

If we are to live together in peace, we must come to know each other better. -Lyndon Johnson

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Happy Election Day

I love to vote.

The fair state of Washington produces a Voters Pamphlet that could easily be subtitled: Everything You Ever Needed To Know About This Year's Election * But Were Afraid To Ask.

This booklet lays out details about each candidate's personal background, history and work experience, and a personal statement explaining whatever this person wants to say. Usually, they explain why they want this office, what problems they see in the world, what they hope to accomplish. The smart ones tell you what they have already accomplished. There's almost always a photo. And the candidate's political party affiliation is noted

Party affiliation is an important piece of the puzzle. It's a shorthand descriptor of the candidate's sense of where the problems lie, and what kind of solutions are preferred. A party handle affiliates the candidate with other political players and identifies with whom this candidate plans to team up.

I pore over these details, evaluating both content and context, adding the pieces together to draw some conclusions about how this person might represent me.

I find the process fascinating.

But this is not the whole process.

Because before I can properly evaluate how the candidates might represent me, I need to take stock my own values.

* * * * *

My values are shaped by my faith.
I'm a Christian.
I rely on God to help me know right from wrong.
And this is what he tells me.

God is love.
We are called to love
And love is always the answer.

Here are a few Bible verses that back me up:

Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.” -Matthew 22 

My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. -1 John 3

My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loveis born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. -1 John 4

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. -John 13

So as I sit with my Voters Pamphlet, analyzing and scrutinizing and looking for the essential information that will tip my pen toward one candidate or the other, I ask myself, Which candidate has the greater capacity to love?"

Which brings me to an important refinement of my values.
God does not call us to love only those who are easy to love.
God calls us out into the deep waters of love, where we can reach out to

the hungry
the thirsty
the homeless
the shivering
the sick
the prisoners.

He tells us to share with our brothers in need.
He commands us to protect the children.

Sources: Matthew 25 | 1 John:3 | Mark 10

And now my choices crystallize.

* * * * *

I understand that it's not necessary to be a Christian to make this distinction, and to make a choice for love. Many people value love and kindness, generosity and care, even if they don't use a Bible reference to back themselves up.

* * * * *

This election year is unusual.

Our nation is caught up in a storm of hate.

Our president speaks hate about women, children, and people of different nations, religions, skin colors, or countries of origin.

This is not my opinion.
It's a proven and highly verifiable fact.
Here's an example pulled fresh from today's news; Google can provide many more.

And yet today we have on our ballots candidates who want to work with him, who align themselves through party affiliation to be on his team, to further his goals, to embolden his hate.

For the life of me, I can't understand this.

Why would any candidate want to work alongside a man filled with hate?
Why would any voter want to be represented by officials who align themselves with hate?

And why would any Christian who understands God's powerful call to love want to cast a vote for anyone that condones hate?

I want to understand this.
Can you explain it to me?

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