This election year is making me more aware of a tendency in humanity – in my own soul – that has to be recognized for what it is.
I’m not talking about the politicians… I’m talking about the voters. Here’s what I mean…
I live every day with various challenges, problems, difficulties, surprises, joys, sorrows, etc. arising from time to time. We’re all in that boat. I do the best I can to face them with the wisdom, strength, and faith that the Lord has provided. What more CAN be done? I don’t always make the best choices. Sometimes I’m blind-sided and respond in self-protection and reactionism. Other times I am able to step back, evaluate, pray, and do better. It’s the way of life on this planet – even for those who have Christ’s amazing gift of the Spirit to guide them in each of those situations.
I don’t appreciate it when others don’t acknowledge that my life, just like theirs is a continual cycle of those kinds of dynamics. When people respond to my actions with overt criticism, lack of compassion, refusal to hear my perspective, personal attacks, or insistence that I had motives other than what I really did, it hurts – and it’s not right. It’s outright hypocritical. They act as if they’ve never made a “bad call” in their lives. As if there is no commonality between the fallen-ness of my life and the fallen-ness of theirs. You’d think being in the same boat would engender a litte compassion for each other, but it seldom does. So goes the depravity of mankind.
Then comes an election year. The candidates do their song and dance. Each one puts on the face that they think best represents him/her or that will best appeal to those they want to support them. It’s politics, a sales job, a Madison Avenue/Hollywood snow job in many ways. It takes a lot of work to see through the fog of accusations and misrepresentations to get at the truth regarding each person. But I try. I do my research and I evaluate the various candidates. I listen to them, look at their records, try to get around the rhetoric to the truth, and compare them to what I believe is best for our nation and our world. At some point I choose a candidate I like best, and eventually vote according to the conclusions I’ve made.
Sometimes the one elected is the one I voted for. Sometimes not. But in either situation, without fail, something takes place during their time in office – sooner or later – where they make a decision I don’t agree with. They make a call, commit to a course of action, and it turns out to be the “wrong one” (in my humble opinion) – and I get critical.
If I let it go too far, I get hypocritical. I start throwing stones at them (usually only in my mind) for the decisions they’ve made. I become an arm-chair politician (isn’t that what all the talking heads on the networks are too?). I do so when reality is that I don’t understand the situation they faced in making the decision. None of us everday, non-governmental folk EVER know the whole story when it’s a Presidential-level or global issue, we have to admit that. We hear snippets of stuff, rumors, political trash, conspiracy theories, and think we know enough to condemn what we’ve “seen.” The truth is that we usually don’t. We forget that were we in their shoes, we’d probably make the same mistakes, and likely even worse given our lack of experience in fighting in the political war zone.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t think critically about our governmental leaders. We have to if we are going to uphold the ideal of President Lincoln’s “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” It’s our job to do that. It’s what keeps our leaders accountable. But I do think we need to learn to extend a little grace, and give our leaders the benefit of the doubt, recognizing that they are human – not divine. They will make mistakes, they will continue to make mistakes. It’s part of being human, isn’t it? When we hold a politician, no matter who he/she may be, to a standard of perfection that no human being can acheive, we set everyone up for failure – including ourselves.
These situations, like most of life, are ones where faith in God has to be greater in practice than our faith in the leaders of our country – even the “good ones.” We have to turn to Him in total reliance when the wrong turns seem to have been made, looking forward to the day when He will do away with the imperfections of humanity. When we put our hope in a political leader, we are not only setting up an idol (a place of wrong trust), but one that is fashioned in our own image.
I look forward to the day that the true King will arrive and set all things right. Even so, come Lord Jesus.