Sorry. It was my fault

It’s finally over.

            After 16 days of government shutdown and partisan wrangling, a short-term agreement to re-open the United States government and raise the debt ceiling got hammered out in the late hours of Wednesday night. WHEW!

            Of course, it is an agreement that only gets us to January, 2014 and then it (potentially) starts all over again.

            In the midst of the wrangling and posturing and bickering, I found myself getting pretty annoyed with both sides. There seemed to be an inability or unwillingness to put the good of the country ahead of party platforms and find common ground. Instead of meaningful dialogue it degenerated into a torrid tennis match of sound bites and bumper sticker rhetoric.

            But the worst part of it all was when I had to stop and recognize my own part in the whole unseemly business.

            In much the same way that businesses only sell us products we have demonstrated that we want to buy and TV stations only produce programs that we’ve told them we want to watch, politicians carry on their conversations in strict accordance with our demands and expectations.

            Most people (and I sadly must include myself in this category) don’t have time for in-depth analysis and thoughtful exploration of complex issues. Collectively we seem to have the attention span of a gnat… unless it has to do with our favorite sports franchise or the lifestyle of a Hollywood personality.

            We insist that our “truth” be boiled down to bite-sized pieces and coated with enough high octane flavor so that we can quickly consume it and spew it back out. 

            Politicians line themselves up neatly in rows of “bad guys” on one side and “good guys” on the other because we have asked them… no, DEMANDED… that they do so. Everything needs to be either black or white. We don’t want even the tiniest hint of gray to show up in our consideration of the issues of the day.

            And calm conversational tones are completely unacceptable, too. If there is an important subject to be discussed, it can only be screamed at the top of our lungs! Nothing personal you understand. That just shows our PASSION.

            And one of the greatest tragedies about engaging one another in this bombastic way is the way that it makes all of us “less than.” You are no longer a multi-faceted, complex and nuanced blend of unique life moments and relationships. You are a “conservative.” Or a “liberal.” A “redneck,” or a “tree-hugger.”  (On a little side tangent here, I wonder if that is one of the underlying reasons for the huge surge of interest in zombies and all things zombie-related… i.e., because of our tendency to treat one another as mindless and one-dimensional destroyers of all that is good. Hmmm. Lemme get back to you on that one…)

            I am sure I am “preaching to the choir” when I say this, but all of us need to go the extra mile in our relationships with one another… even to, and maybe especially to those who are strangers. Or even “enemies.” Let’s remember Psalm 8:5 as it tells us that God made human beings (ALL human beings), “… a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.” And Psalm 139:14 that says we are each, “… fearfully and wonderfully made.” And then we turn to God and say, ” … Wonderful are your works!”

            Let’s try to remember that “those politicians” are not some alien species, completely disconnected from the world as we know it. Sadly they stand before us as sobering reminders of the dark places living inside each one of us; dark places yearning to be exposed to the healing light of Christ.

Keep praying. Keep repenting. Keep seeking Christ.

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