I am troubled this month. Fair warning, this one’s going to be political. I can’t help myself.
First some background. My Uncle Lanny is a retired police officer. He lived in New York only as long as he absolutely had to. Took his pension and moved down to a golf course in South Carolina. He would consider himself a staunch Republican. For eight years, there was post after Facebook post about how Obama had ruined America. Lying lefties, Crooked Hillary, Benghazi! If it was on Fox News, it was on his Facebook wall. As you might imagine, the Trump presidency has him in hog heaven.
Recently my uncle made a post in response to pulling out of the Paris climate accords. Specifically, that the left was losing its collective mind and he couldn’t be happier. I try to ignore his stuff. I am pretty non-confrontational. I had him muted for a while, actually, but somehow he found his way back on my feed. Sometimes I can’t help myself, though, and this was one of those times.
“I couldn’t agree more” went my sarcastic reply. “Let the world burn, as long as my side ‘wins’.” Now this is what was supposed to happen. I was waiting, just waiting for him to reply to my post. I wanted very much to publicly shame him. Blast him for being short-sighted and narrow minded. Call out his Catholic upbringing and hypocritical stances. Bury him, publicly, mind you, with my superior intellect and wit. This is not a Christian attitude. Far from it. I know this as well as anybody. I didn’t care. But he threw me a curve ball.
Instead of replying to my comment, he sent me a private message apologizing for accidentally deleting it. He then proceeded to tell me how Republicans don’t believe that we are causing the climate to change, something about redistribution of wealth, and more gloating about the left melting down over the coming “Armageddon.” I said nothing. My crowning moment of glory had been taken from me and I did not care to engage on a personal level. Some people will not be reasoned with.
My petty urges aside, I find myself in a dilemma as to how to approach these situations. Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek. Forgive our neighbor. Love in the face of hate. Jesus also turned over tables and threw the money changers out of the temple. He answered blasphemy and hypocrisy with righteous fury. The literal wrath of God. How would He have reacted to the large percentage of the population who claim His teachings as justification for hate, oppression, and inhumanity to their fellow man. I wish I knew.
What I wanted to tell my uncle was that his position was unfathomable to me. Even if there is only the smallest chance that climate change is man-made, what is the harm in taking precautions? Some corporations become slightly less profitable? Millionaires might not become billionaires? For an avowed Catholic, how is that even a consideration? By the same token, how can you look at an imperfect program which provides health care (in many cases literal life or death) to millions who could not otherwise afford it and see only tyranny. I don’t understand.
I don’t really understand contemporary politics, to be honest. I don’t understand why discourse is dead. I don’t see why liberal means terror-loving babykiller and conservative means racist hillbilly zealot. I’m registered as a democrat when I came of voting age because I tended to fall more in line with that party’s stated priorities. I’m liberal on some fronts and conservative on others. I’ve voted for Republican candidates. I’ve always tried to vote for the best candidate, not just the blue one. Those days seem far away now. In a time when there can be no enlightened compromise, I choose to remain with the party that is deeply flawed, but largely sane.
But I see no reason why it needs to be that way. Politics isn’t sports. There is no earthly reason why we, as a society, need to pick a side and stay there. Why we should blindly support our chosen party, whether they are right or wrong. Or worse, whether we should believe they are always right, not because we have weighed their position and found it reasonable, but because the other side must be wrong.
You are not beholden to anyone but the Lord.
I have an intellectual exercise for you. Next time you hear a proposal for some bill or policy, don’t look for the (D) or the (R) next to it. Don’t try to find out which party proposed it or which side supports it. Just consider it on its own merits. Decide whether Christ would be okay with it, and then consider whether it benefits the country, state, city, etc. Champion the things that will benefit the most people, just not at the expense of the least people. Use that big, beautiful brain that God gave you.
Okay, I’ll come down now. I’ve taken enough of your time as it is. I hope you’ll think about what I’ve said, and then decide whether you agree with it or not, based on its own merits. It might be a little while until we chat again, so I will bid you a happy and healthy summer. Who knows? Maybe we’ll check in a couple of months down the road. In the meantime, try not to get too caught up, okay? Thanks.