Cringeworthy may describe current American political discourse (not referring to anyone in particular – just the back and forth between them) Statesmanship and civility seem to be scarce resources these days. 

Some say we have never been through such tumult; with words like impeachment already being discussed. It’s not just bluster; there appears to be substance.

Even the cry of “fake news” has surpassed the three repetitions limit given to the young shepherd boy; and now, the danger is the wolves will materialize.

 

We should take heart; the United States has been through worse; and although no two moments in history are exactly alike, ancient wisdom reminds us:

 What has been is what will be,

and what has been done is what will be done;
there is nothing new under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 1:9 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Does that mean everything’s okay? Should we turn away from the hype or engage?

How? Perhaps we should not completely turn away, but maybe take more breaks and spend more time with our children, …

“The soul is healed by being with children.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky (famous Russian author – no pun intended)

with our friends,

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

and we should definitely laugh more … let’s not take ourselves so seriously. 

“On the highest throne in the world, we still sit only on our own bottom.”
― Michel de Montaigne, The Complete Essays

If you’re on the #Trumptrain, have a #MAGA bumper sticker, and can sit through Steve Colbert you have a great sense of humor and a wonderful spirit of generosity! If you can find the time, motivation, and love to pray for President Trump as a democrat the same applies. We should not forget the command of the Nazarene:

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To love means a lot; it presupposes hard times, disagreements, and strife. But it is the most powerful evidence of wisdom there is and if you have a few more minutes please enjoy Colbert because I, again, surmise that you are a very generous person:

Its comedy … remember … and an expression of American freedom. There are nation-states where poking fun at the leader is not permitted. Loyalty is coerced and therefore is often false, self serving, and artificial.

There are some serious issues like health care. It’s not funny to those who are sick and can’t pay; and then insult to injury is added when fellow Americans (neighbors) are derisive in their commentary and blow more bluster their way instead of offering real solutions. 

It’s basic manners and common logic to recognize that some people have in fact been helped by the ACA – Obamacare. Instead of speaking at the supposed shortcomings of the program and down to its supporters more can get done by proposing objective solutions to the issues; and speaking horizontally  (across the aisle) to democrats.

That may not get headlines – so it seems that politicians use the media to rile their base while the media networks improve their ratings; making everything appear like one HUGE reality TV show. Someone’s business model has prevailed.

How do we disentangle this Medusa?

It seems the media believes that a heavy dose of American politics is what we need when we check our feeds; and what a feast it has turned out to be. Both sides do it … and it helps no one to point fingers. We need to fix things by speaking to the problems; not blaming strawmen or scapegoats.

As the saying goes we are what we eat … if our mind’s diet consists of strife, disrespect, and lies … than just as a high fat, high cholesterol, high sugar diet will take a toll on our body so will the former affect our (soul) heart.

Humor and humility allows our heart to exercise off the excesses – by removing the illusion that we are inerrant, infallible, and superior. These ideas and subsequent emotions are what create the political atmosphere. The good news is we have power over that. We can choose what to read, hear, and what to watch. We owe loyalty to our integrity.

23 Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.

Proverbs 4:23 NIV

When in strife, political groups have always longed for the glory days or desired something new (Change, Hope). Today Republicans are pushing for MAGA and next election Democrats will probably be pushing for change. It’s the yin-yang of American politics. This line of argumentation is old and inefficient. We should know better.

…does MAGA make sense or should we demand something better? The correct decision requires wisdom:

Do not say, “Why is it that the former days were better than these?” For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this.

Ecclesiastes 7:10

The Republican establishment grumbled over the past 8 years. They were not wrong to do so in many cases, but I would humbly argue that they lost the chance to make progress by not taking the high road. Instead, they embraced divisive rhetoric, they belittled then President Obama, they did not call out injustice out of a fear of growing weaker by extending an olive branch to their colleagues, neighbors, and countrymen. Perhaps they resented the fact that democrats, led by President Obama worked their agenda through as forcefully as possible. All the while, everyday Americans were affected by the political inefficiencies that these squabbles produced. And here was the niche that current President Donald J. Trump needed.

His based seized on anger and resentments festering over an extended period of time. Many of these grievances are legitimate – to the shock of some democrats. What is troubling is that the vehicle used to promote them was often filled with negatives. The Christian base gave Donald J. Trump the push he needed in the election; but not without a cost. (And yes it could be argued that he, in the end may have been the best choice) THAT however does not remove the burden of responsibility for confronting political vitriol. We must demand more from our local representatives and we must do more to set the example of who we want to govern. 

Lies, Insults, Slander, etc.

I will not repeat here all the negative and often immoral subjects discussed in the campaign but I will highlight the most recent attacks on the media, the continued name calling of dissenters, and the scapegoating tactics President Trump uses as wrong and damaging. They are unnecessary but still impose a cost to the nation. Here is a video that exemplifies civility in politics in a direct comparison of how a leader should handle criticism and the media. (Please focus on Kennedy’s response – you may have complaints about him – but in this respect he was exemplary)

 

It truly is challenging to motivate our children to aspire to politics with some of things that are spoken; and even those that remain unspoken. Is lack of backbone, eloquence, RESPECT, and decency no longer required to aspire to public office? Are Christian values suspended when officiating? Not that we need to elect saints; but leaders at least need to have some basic respect for the Bible upon which the oath for office was made.

Ephesians 4:49 New American Standard Bible
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

What is the difference between the unwholesome words and conversations of late night talk shows as those used by elected officials? You can choose to not watch the talk shows BUT you will be affected by the policies, politics, and presence of those who govern the country. BIG difference. It’s a telling sign when reporters, late night comedians, and actors speak out more against injustice than ministers of the New Covenant of which every believer is. Christians are free to vote as they please but we are called to confront injustice through New Covenant grace. This demands continuous consideration of God’s word.

Matthew 5 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Beatitudes
5 When Jesus[a] saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

5 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely[b] on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Therefore, how will we respond in this life to the call? We can start by seeing others by the light of the Word.

Strength should not be equated with a belligerent tone against fellow Americans, or anyone for that matter; there are options when selecting words, and strength is evidenced by that choice.

We need to be more careful with our words; are we grumbling about our circumstances or praying for wisdom to solve them? What we choose will give different results.

There is a verse in the Old Testament where the Israelites complain to God about the miraculous food, known as mana, that he had been sending them in the desert; they grumbled and complained of having to eat the same thing every day and even grumbled that “back” when they were in Egypt they had more variety. Moses brought the complaint before the Lord and stressed that the people demanded meat. Well, God responded:

“You will eat it for a whole month until you gag and are sick of it. For you have rejected the LORD, who is here among you, and you have whined to him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”

Numbers 11:20 New Living Translation

Let’s turn grumbling into prayer, and prayer into action.

When you’re in transition from one place to the next the discomfort of the trip can lead to nostalgia of the past. And for some reason our memory takes great liberty in romanticising it. We cannot drive correctly by focusing on the rearview mirror. We need to to be grateful for what we have, identify what needs to get done, and work together to move forward. Otherwise, we may not like the result – because we will always reap what we have sowed. We cannot harvest peace if we have planted strife.

Be #blessed

Postscript:

The problem is often that issues have been getting swamped up in rhetoric. It seems that the tension in the room can only be cut with by pressing the off button – or rescuing those cute cat videos we used to watch a few years back. (Click below for detox)

 

 

 

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