Dazed, Confused and More Than a Little Concerned

February 18, 2016

My tendency is to use this site to post sermons I’ve preached. I’ve rarely used it for social commentary (other than what’s in my sermons), but I’m feeling compelled to do so today. I pray you will be able to walk with me for a moment. At the end of this road, we may not reach the same destination, but I hope that in walking together, perhaps new insights can be gained by both of us.

Opening Prayer:  May all who enter here do so with an open heart, centered in love.

Let me begin by sharing my context as it relates to the United States political system and the election process. I grew up believing in the democratic system and believing that the elected leaders, whether from “our party” or not, had the best interest of the people at heart. Sunday dinner around grandmother’s table included aunts and uncles with a range of views, mostly Republicans then, though this has changed over time. My father switched to the Democratic Party in 1970 to run for Congress in a heavily Republican district in Houston, Texas, which he lost. Even so, we watched the State of the Union annually and showed respect to those who served our country. SOTU Collage
Over the years, much has changed in the political climate, but my instinct is to still believe in the greater good of those who serve. Even so, I’m a realist and know that there are many instances that have shown this is not true in all cases. Unfortunately, light gets shown on the negative, and the broad brush covers the whole lot. Picture1Add to that the evolution of Talk-Radio, which has been reduced to divisive name-calling and rants instead of informed, intelligent dialogue. The emergence of the internet and cable “news” has amplified that trend.

So now we have increased access to information from all sides, always at our fingertips, delivered by anyone who has an opinion (including me, it seems), and it’s hard to sort out fact from fiction. So, how does anyone make an informed decision anymore? And with everyone tearing down one another, who in their right mind would want to expose themselves to this onslaught?

Yet, our democracy depends on some who will come forward to serve.

The problem comes when we all get so frustrated with the choices we have that we decide to stay home and “check-out.” It’s so much easier to throw up our hands and do nothing, than to do the hard work of paying attention, sorting through the media-rubbish, and selecting the person we believe would best represent our interests. Because, at the end of the day, someone will be in office – that is guaranteed. Now, I am asking you to help us all do the work of deciding who that will or won’t be.

The time is now.

You see, we are now two votes into our presidential primary election cycle with two quickly afoot. As I hear about the projections of the upcoming races, I’m admittedly, as the title of this post discloses, dazed, confused and more than a little concerned.

Last summer, when Donald Trump entered the race for the presidency, most comedians were in heaven. They were happily awaiting each mis-step so they could pounce on it and get the laughs. Most of the rest of us, in both major political parties, seemed to react more in line with “This’ll never last, but it’ll be fun to see how long it takes before Trump implodes.”

Then, with every seeming mis-step that Trump has taken, total “candidate killers” in the past – asserting that many Mexican immigrants are rapists; repeated degradation of women; a call to ban all Muslims from entering the country; just to name a few – he emerges stronger than ever in the polls. Now, as I mentioned above, I was taught to respect differing viewpoints. But when the differing viewpoints are disrespectful and filled with insults and absurdities, that rail against my core principles of equity and care for others, not belittling and condemnation, then I admit that I’m dazed and confused by the traction Trump has gained.Trump Collage

Adding to that, his rallies and the debates themselves have been filled with rampant insults openly slung at his fellow candidates, moderators, or anyone who challenges his views. Each debate seems to be his latest reality show in the making: “The Apprentice: The Presidential Primary Edition.” And, without putting forth a true plan for how Trump would “make America great again,” he just lobs insults, saying in effect, “You’re Fired” to his competitors. It’s so confusing to me that the voting public seems to be eating this up.

Unfortunately, that reality is eating me up.

I’m more than a little concerned that if Trump wins the next couple of primary votes, he could run the tables all the way to the Republican Convention. If so, what does that say about us as a country? Is this what now appeals to the people of the United States for their leader?

If you think that it isn’t possible, I beg of you to think again.

Yesterday I read the book “After Fifteen Years” by Leon Jaworski. In it, he recounts aspects of post-WWII war crimes trials which he investigated and prosecuted. Amid the trial details, he ponders what could cause people to make such a shift from loving, Christian people, to succumbing to evil all around them. He points to Edmund Burke’s quote, “All that is necessary for the forces of evil to win this world is for enough good men to do nothing.” Jaworski reveals aspects of Germany when Hitler began his rise to power. Its people were highly patriotic, and had been very successful, yet there were struggles, too. 51k8+MVDCBL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_Perhaps for us now, like then, economic strain and political stress has created an environment ripe for demagogues to emerge. “The venom they spew soon serves as a palliative to the burdened man. It gives him false hopes and causes him to embrace evil precepts.” And Jaworski ultimately wonders if this could happen elsewhere.[i]

Now, I’m not saying that Trump is equivalent to Hitler. Hitler wrote and published Mein Kampf which outlined his strategy, and was the foundational document of the Nazi Party. We have no evidence of Trump’s intention or plan, just his assertion that he wants to “Make America great again.” I just wonder, by whose standard? What time is he looking at as his benchmark for the greatness of America? Our memory is often rose-colored. I’d rather have a way forward, not a way backward. I hope that my leaders will be those that lead with love and respect for others, not bullies that hurl insults and spew venom at every turn.

If you’re still walking with me, thank you.

If you’re wondering what you can do, the first step is to vote and then be willing to let others know who you are voting for and why. I know we’ve come to a time where talking politics is very risky – I’m certainly taking a risk with this post – but I believe that conversations really are helpful. I also realize that we often feel that our vote doesn’t matter. vote That just one vote or one comment to others won’t make a difference. Well, I’d like to put forth another quote by Edmund Burke, “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.” The vote may seem like a little thing, yet it is the power we have, and each one adds up to many. What’s more, it is at the heart of this democratic system we treasure.

voiceThen, regardless of whether your candidate wins or not, please don’t abandon the future. It’s easy to become disheartened, but if we do that, we abdicate our authority once again. Keep your voice in the conversation – respectfully and constructively. We don’t always win, but you can’t ever win if you don’t play. Please make sure you’re in the game.

Thank you for walking with me.

Closing Prayer:   May all who leave here do so with an open heart, centered in love.

Walk in Love

 

[i] Leon Jaworski, After Fifteen Years, Houston, Texas: Gulf Publishing Company, 1961, p 12-13.

3 Responses to “Dazed, Confused and More Than a Little Concerned”

  1. Sharon Pitman said

    My earnest prayer for my country is that God would would raise up leaders who walk in wisdom and make Godly decisions, setting aside personal and partisan interests to serve God and country. A real statesman. Our country needs a great revival and return to the Lord by Christians and my prayer is that it can happen without the destruction of our country.

    >

  2. Jim Greenwood said

    You may have started writing in a “dazed, confused” state, but your conclusion indicates you have morphed to sharp clarity as you expressed your concerns and stated your very rational conclusions and encouragements.

    Leon Jaworski and Edmund Burke are great resources and models, as is the ONE who encouraged us to “walk in love.” The picture of one red and one blue sneaker is a nice touch.

    You are definitely on the right track.

  3. Suzy Lynskey said

    I read this with interest (and an open mind as requested.) When Trump began his rhetoric I remarked that he was dangerous and likened him to Hitler. Loud, arrogant, and ostentatious, he excited people and they seemed to think he was the solution for the countries problems.

    Friends were shocked that I made the comparison and they thought it was hilarious. While The Donald still has some momentum, as other candidates suspend their campaigns their supporters will solidify behind one of the other front runners.

    I will continue to pray that we can elect a true servant who will put the common interest above his/her own.

I invite your thoughts and insights.

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