I’ve never been much for politics.
In fact, my family members reading this title probably immediately clicked to my blog to see what on earth I had to share on this topic.
As a child, I wasn’t naturally interested in news or politics. When I got a little older, once in awhile my parents would actually ask me to sit and watch the news, because they thought it was something important about which I should have some understanding.
As much as I agree with them, I still don’t think I got much out of those sittings, and I still don’t relish watching the news. I try to read about important happenings in the most minimal way possible to stay somewhat informed, then move on with my day.
As for politics, it’s a similar scenario. I only voted exactly one time in Canada, before being away at school for three years near Rochester, NY. I then married and moved all the way to Massachusetts, the home of my husband, where I have lived ever since. Now I confess that I don’t fully understand the details of either US or Canadian governments. Someday I hope to at least become literate on this topic.
So I may not be an expert in politics, but I do know some things about life.
Isn’t there a book called, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten ? Although I doubt I agree with many of the author’s personal beliefs, I’ve always been intrigued by a truth in this title. When it comes down to it, many of life’s most important lessons are pretty basic.
In fact, this post reminds me of the kinds of interactions with children that I dealt with almost daily in my years as a teacher’s aide.
So why is it “acceptable” in politics for grown men (and women), to revert to behavior hardly appropriate for a young child? I’ve never understood nor appreciated this fact.
I’m not talking about everyone. There are many politicians who possess the desirable qualities of integrity, kindness and uprightness, and whose words and actions are admirable.
But so often I am disappointed (sometimes downright disgusted), by the way in which people talk and act when it comes to their political views. And Christians are unfortunately not exempt.
So I present some thoughts that we probably all learned in our formative years in the sandbox, which I believe apply to our politics as well:
1. Name-calling is not cool.
We all know that the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me”, is pretty far from the truth. Names, unkind titles, and derogatory comments do hurt and they can negatively affect both the speaker, the listener, and the one of which the words are being spoken.
If we wouldn’t speak to someone face to face in the same way we talk about them in conversations and on social media (or driving in our car), then we probably shouldn’t be speaking at all. And often our comments are not motivated by speaking the truth in love, but rather an emotional reaction to something we don’t like.
“But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.” – Matthew 5:22 (NLT)
2. Putting others down doesn’t make you look any better.
It is human nature to feel that if we put others down, we will look better. But it really isn’t true. Instead, we are often disclosing our own insecurities and the sinful attitudes of our heart.
Speaking of “the sandbox”, Jesus himself once wrote in the sand in response to the accusations of the crowd when a woman was caught in adultery. He reminded the onlookers that they were no better (or less sinful), than she.
Even if we disagree, we can still do it in a civilized manner.
“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” – Ephesians 4:29 (NLT)
3. The “Golden Rule” Still Applies
All of the “elementary” teachings that many of us learned in church or school as a child are just as relevant in our grown lives.
I often think about and speak of this in our own family. It seems that “the basics” of Christianity are often the most difficult to live out in our daily, “real” lives.
Even if you are not a believer, I’m sure you want your life to be based on good principles and your words and actions reflective of a mature, kind person.
4. Above all else, PRAY!
This isn’t necessarily learned “in the sandbox”, but children do seem much more apt and willing to pray. They are not bound by complicated reasoning and years of emotional baggage.
The Bible teaches us most of all to pray for our leaders.
“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior…” – 1 Timothy 2:1-3 (NLT)
I like the boldness of The Message version of Luke 6:27-38:
27-30 “To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, gift wrap your best coat and make a present of it. If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.
31-34 “Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that.
35-36 “I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind.
37-38 “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.”
There is certainly a time to speak what is true, but I think the manner in which we deliver it will disclose our real intent. Also, it is responsible and right to research and check the facts about a politician’s values and character, as well as what they intend to accomplish in office.
Then we should pray and vote accordingly.
So let us think before we speak, examine ourselves before we judge, and treat others the way we wish to be treated, and above all else, pray for our leaders. Let’s behave not like disobedient children, but as wise and mature individuals, living lives of honor to God.