Wednesday, March 14, 2012

going apolitical

It sounds like AWOL to me but I know it's not, it just sounds that way. In truth however, it feels as if I am leaving something behind that really doesn't want me to go. The political establishment would love to keep me if it could, as I am sure it could use me, or more aptly, abuse me. Politics is a machine no doubt but should be closely akin to a meat grinder. You might look good going in but I guarantee you aren't very pretty afterward.

The entire premise of politics is simply a vessel for getting your way, let that be said, maybe emphatically. While some politicians might suggest there is integrity in politics, I have a hard time believing that to be possible for any man or woman after being exposed to the machine of politics after even just a couple of years. If your profession is to do nothing more than argue, fight for and defend your way of thinking (and the desires of your constituents) you are more than likely going to do just about anything to get your point across. Ultimately, at the end of the day, you must do anything necessary to get your way, it's why voters elect you.

This naturally sounds harsh but the more you process this, the more it not only makes sense but leads one to ask why anyone would want to be a politician in the first place. I want to believe that a lot of people get into politics for the chance to make a difference for the people, maybe even the world. But power is a funny thing and it affects men and women alike.

Even voters get caught up in the power to affect your point of view. Look no further than Facebook to see how we share our opinions based on our affiliations. I have witnessed the gamut from absolute ignorance to complete command of the process and yet I find that very few people will ever be swayed to one view or the other based on a Facebook post, or a rant on YouTube. Voters are fickle for sure but they want what they perceive as a legitimate and credible source for information (aka news). Realistically, you and I were wired with certain perceptions by our parents. A lot of us carry those perceptions into adulthood and pass them onto our children. There are some of us who have never questioned those perceptions, mainly because they are comfortable, to a certain degree.

Does this seem odd? To me it shows what kind of people we are; a people who do not always question that which is before us. I began questioning everything when I was in my early twenties. It took until my late twenties to start putting a lot of answers to some tough questions. For the next ten years after that I chased a mantle of understanding based on where life had led me. My perceptions were that we the people were not doing enough for we the people. That perception is why I registered as a Democrat as soon as I was legally allowed to do so.

For the last twenty years or so, I had believed that we needed to do more socially for our citizens and I believed that politics was part of my answer for how we got there. The last twelve years have taught me that my faith was the other part. Hand in hand I started to believe that we could change the world if we could only get those with faith to grasp that same social doctrine, that of Jesus Himself.

What I failed to grasp however is that politics was and is never going to work. In understanding the very premise behind politics it became crystal clear that no social service would ever truly be served by a machine that wants nothing more than to get its way and not the way of the people. For me, this comes as an obvious answer now but I was blind to until recently. Convinced that policy could be written to further the advances of human rights I charged on in hopes that one day we might end homelessness in this country. One day we might end poverty here. One day we might even like each other enough not to be racist. Or sexist. Or a bigot.

I have stayed out of many of the lights for good reason. My faith seemed to be holding me back and it seemed easier to just sit back and take notes. Occasionally I found light in commenting where I could but typically it was easier to say I was a social gospel person, cared about my community, loved Jesus....and was a liberal. That last label was the easy part because I have always thought of myself as a liberal. I have not always cared about my community, or the social gospel...or Jesus. That last label was the hard part, because it meant I had to admit that I wasn't getting my way.

Today is a new day. I'm still a liberal in spirit and will give of myself like always but maybe even like never before. I do truly care about my community and will work tirelessly to engage my neighbor, my coworker, the strangers at the store and even those whom I disagree with, in positive ways that bring out the best in each of us. I can't deny the heart of the social gospel for at its core is the essence of the gospel itself, and that is grace; something we must give out. Lastly, I will unabashedly accept Jesus as my savior, but maybe even more importantly, everyone's savior.

Politics won't miss me and I won't miss politics. Getting my way was always so hard anyway.

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