Grace and Peace to you.
One might think that it’s Halloween when the witches, ogres, monsters and all those scary figures finally take their costumes and go away. But it’s really not ’till Election Day. Political ads have become increasingly negative to the point where it seems like an election is a Halloween contest for the scariest costume (we all know it’s pretend) and the winner is whoever comes in last.
It’s a symptom of our fear—not just fear of somebody doing something we don’t like, but fear of what’s inside us, fear of our own inner monsters. We want to be distracted from our vulnerability and our powerlessness and our shame. We want some cheesy issue to distract us from what really gnaws at us. We get inflamed about what other people ought to do so that we can ignore how we ought to change. We’re glad to be made afraid of terrorists or immigrants or welfare cheats so we don’t have to be afraid of our own selfishness and violence. We obsess with political issues so we can ignore God’s issues, like poverty and war and our abuse of God’s Creation.
The Bible says that love of money, that is, the desire to protect one’s riches, is the root of all kinds of evil. Yet candidates will brag about how much of your riches they will protect (while actually putting in the hands of rich, powerful, unregulated corporations). The Bible says to love your neighbor, but candidates promise to separate you from your neighbors and disengage you from their struggles. Lusting for power, candidates pretend to be “ordinary people.” Candidates will claim to be “outsiders” with fresh perspectives, but ignore the needs of the real outsiders, those who are dispossessed and despised, foreign or voiceless.
It’s as if we are invited, begged, to vote with fear and rancor, with cynicism and disregard for reality. But you—you, my friends, reading this on your computer screen this Tuesday morning— you will vote differently. You will vote prayerfully. You will vote gently and compassionately, with courage and generosity, without fear or self-serving, without bitterness or hate. You will vote as you live, in love and grace, and in truth. As Jesus bids you, you will vote for the sake of the poor, for those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted. You will vote with love. And if voting does not seem to accomplish this for you, if you leave the voting booth no more loving and courageous than you entered, then you’ve got the rest of the day to work on that. Shed the costumes, face your deepest fears, and learn to trust more deeply in the grace of God. The “results” won’t show up in tomorrow’s papers, but they’ll change the world.
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes