Humans are created as social creatures who pool their resources (time, energy, wealth) to accomplish things, and to this I believe Papa, Jesus & Sarayu say: “It is good.” This leads me to my belief that politics are part of God’s good creation. If we say “God doesn’t care about politics,” I think we are succumbing to a kind of dualism in which politics (people’s ways of working together) are too earthly for God to touch with his delicate spiritual hands. The human condition is home to the glorified incarnate Jesus, and the human condition involves people who think their own thoughts and have their own unique perspective on things. I suspect this diversity is part of how we are beautiful, a beauty that may not fade as Jesus increasingly becomes “all in all” in his New Creation.
I think all this has something to say to how we go about politicking. In the fullness of Papa’s kingdom when the knowledge of the Lord covers the earth as the waters cover the sea, how will people deal with the diversity of human thought and action? And how can I join with Sarayu in stepping into this good future that Papa has already created in Jesus? How can my 2012 political life become an hors d’oevure of that heavenly feast?
The first answer I’ve come to has nothing to do with “The Issues.” It has to do with “Love thy neighbor.” What I think Sarayu is showing me is that, in the past, I have used political seasons as an excuse to take a break from loving my friends who are politically different from me. Most of my friends are people I know to be basically intelligent, sane, and good. But then a super-PAC comes along. It massages my ego by agreeing with my political views, and then proceeds to tell me that my friends (the ones who disagree with me) are either evil, crazy, or stupid. In the past, I have pretty readily believed the PAC. After all, they have more money to spend on ads than my friends do. And that’s why every Autumn, I feel the stress of interacting with friends who seem sane but intend to vote in ways that obviously mean they are crazy.
So in the past year, I have tried a simple experiment: I have tried to resist every impulse to believe that my good/intelligent/sane friends are evil/stupid/crazy, regardless of their political ideas. This experiment has borne some surprisingly great fruit. I have been more able to listen and learn. I have learned to refrain from using political “zingers” because zingers are all about exposing the evil/stupidity/insanity of political “others,” and some of those others are my friends whom I respect and admire.
Most of all, here it is November 1, and I’m feeling quite at peace. My body is not vibrating in fear or anger about which Caesar gets elected emperor. It’s nice!
Some people will tell me I *should* be afraid and angry because of this or that crucial issue and the national darkness that awaits us if [ Insert name ] gets elected. I do agree that there really are issues that are extremely important –– Life-and-Death important. We do have real problems that will take our best humanity and intelligence to solve. But none of that trumps the fact that I know and trust my friends. And that my knowing/trusting lives within the embrace of the perfect knowing/trusting shared between Papa, Jesus & Sarayu. I am happy you and I are citizens together of that Place.
(The original version of this essay was posted at the blog Trinity and Humanity)