Is it the nature of human beings to divide ourselves? Race, socioeconomic status, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and all the other categories we impose in our lives. How often do we want to know a person’s profession and the profession of their spouse? Do you have children? Where do you go to church? Where did you go to high school or college?
I firmly believe that our differences make us stronger. We can do so much more if we have both physicians and nurses; pastors and lay people; and math and art teachers. I don’t know anyone that would think we should only have firefighters and no police. All too often our society seems to believe we would be better off without liberals or conservative or without Catholics or Protestants or Muslims, or whatever it is that isn’t our faith.
What we share is what binds us. What divides us makes us weaker. I am proud of my faith and that I am to the left of center and am ever grateful that I have friends on the both ends of the continuum. They show me daily how one can have very different views and still share my faith and my love for this country. However, I’m saddened by those that use faith and politics as a stick with which to beat others or who profess their bullying as love. I am equally saddened by those that did not learn as children that name calling is inappropriate and never helps anyone. Most of all, I am saddened when people are so enamored by a single perspective that they are no longer willing to see the evidence in front of them. Yes, you can see this as meaning the other person, but until we all spend more time looking inward rather than outward we will be on the wrong path.
I am a liberal that remains politically independent. I thought George Bush was a good man, but didn’t agree with many of his policies. I think Obama is a good man but don’t agree with all his policies. I firmly believe that everyone that spends their career in public life does so with a desire to make us better and to serve our country. Then they get in office and rather than serve are so busy making sure the other doesn’t succeed that they forget they are there to serve the people and not a party. Policy should not be a political sport.
If we look at our politicians, and we don’t like them, then we should look inward. They are us. When they lie, it is because we lie. It is because we want to hear lie and we don’t forgive or accept the truth. When they say racist things, it is because we are racist. Politicians would not say sexist and racist things if we didn’t want to hear them. When they demonstrate no ability to balance a budget, it is because we can’t balance our budgets. When they are more concerned about their success than the country, it is because we are more tied to our parties than our country. If they don’t understand foreign policy, or religious freedom, or the tragedy that is gun violence, or the horror of racism, sexism, and religious phobia it is because we don’t understand those issues and don’t take the time to learn and I mean learn not read social media posts. They are us, and we are them.
If we want to change politics and return to a country of the values we associate with the best of faith traditions, then we must change as individuals. We can’t expect the elected officials and the policy makers to have values that we do not have. It is easy.
- Don’t lie.
- Don’t take what isn’t yours.
- Balance your budget.
- Save when there is plenty to be prepared for when there isn’t.
- Don’t take more than you need.
- Serve your country.
- Study the Constitution.
- Volunteer in your community.
- Attend your faith-based service regularly or if you do not believe find an ethical society.
- Respect the freedom and conscience of others and don’t impose your beliefs on them.
- Pray, study, or meditate daily on what you believe.
- Don’t kill (the unborn, the guilty, the enemy).
- Be willing to lay down your life for another.
- Love radically – God, country, family, and your neighbor.
- See all children and elders as your responsibility.
- Show respect for those that don’t agree with you.
- Be polite to everyone and not just those that make it easy.
- Find the goals you share and work toward them even if it is on parallel paths.
- Love and respect cultural and political differences and put aside labels in your words and your heart.
- Let go of fear.
- Turn away from anger
BE A GOOD CITIZEN