Beyond fear and anger in politics

A friend of mine told me recently he’s afraid to put an Obama sticker on his car for fear the vehicle will be vandalized. I suspect there are Romney supporters with similar fears. Such is the state of political “discourse” in our country right now.

It’s gotten angry, and the anger has come from fear. Chicken Little has come to politics and run amok. “The sky is falling, the sky is falling.” I hear this from friends on both sides of the Presidential contest.

The sky will not fall after the election, no matter who wins. Those who put their hopes in Obama or Romney have put their hopes in the wrong place. They seem to have forgotten that Christ is the only one worthy of our hope.

I’m reading a book about how people of different faiths relate to one another. It is not about American politics, yet it has some words that can be applied to political differences as well as to religious ones.

Gustav Niebuhr, in Beyond Tolerance, speaks of a “sign of hope” in inter-religious relationships. “The sign of hope has to do with the willingness of people to take one another seriously, to acknowledge the vitality of the beliefs that separate adherents of different faiths rather than their lethal potential.”

The connections to our political situation are obvious.

A Catholic theologian told Niebuhr  “Can one admit differences without being adversarial? Now, that’s a radical thing in the world–that you’re not me, and I’m not you, but that doesn’t mean a threat.”

“Radical it is, indeed,” Niebuhr said. “It cuts directly against tribalism, an impulse to which most of us are prey.”

As we cast our varied votes, I pray we will not demonize one another or the candidates, that we will not fall prey to the tribal political forces which can devour us.

Democrats and Republicans both love this nation. Jesus said to love our “enemies,” and love is not just a feeling; it expresses itself in the words we say and the actions we perform. Vote and love.

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