Today is election day. The mid-term elections. Usually a ho-hum time of little interest and less engagement. I sense that in these days of political unrest (some might aver distress), there is greater (greatest?) interest and engagement. Millions of Americans already have voted. Today, millions more, including me.
In my preparation to exercise this precious political franchise of voting, this gracious bequest of generations before me who were denied the right to vote, I thought little about my individual political preferences, little about my individual choices of candidates and various ballot initiatives, verily, little about those with whom I agree. (Though, yes, I, self-defined as a liberal/progressive, have political preferences, choices of candidates and ballot initiatives, and fellow Americans with whom I agree.)
Rather, I have thought and continue to think of and pray for my country, these United States of America and the spirit of my nation, including all those fellow Americans with whom I do not agree.
For I so tire, I soul-tire of the name-calling, the raucous cries from whatever, whichever side, the incessant pointing of vilifying fingers at “those people,” as if the ones pointing their fingers are any less guilty, any less culpable of trafficking in the wholesale blind-labeling of those they oppose with monikers of whatever, whichever disparaging “–ism.”
(I think that it is a pernicious peculiarity of human behavior that whenever we call others by a censorious name, we, in effect and in fact, render those persons unknowable. For once we have diminished others, demonized others to the state of being caricatures, we also have so distanced ourselves from them and from their individual and particular personhoods that we do not and cannot know them.)
And more, far more than tiring, I fear, with all the talk of winning and losing, that we, as a nation, will continue to squander our capacity for the comity of compromise, aye, even more, even deeper our capability for communion.
As a Christian, who seeks to live with love and justice (unconditional, impartial, and active benevolence and fairness) for and with all, always (and ever being ready and prepared to confess my failures), this potential waste is my greatest sorrow.
2 thoughts on “A Voter’s Lament”
What a beautiful, tender declaration of the struggle to live out the joint (although not at all one and the same) yoke of faith and citizenship. You have illuminated such wisdom in your realization of the distancing and divorcing power of names and labels. And to understand and openly mourn for the loss of compromise and the tragedy of the breaking of the possibility of communion with fellow citizens requires not only deep insight, but strength, grace, and courage. These are thoughts that I will ponder deeply on this election day and as I watch the results this evening.
Finally, thank you immensely for the perfect word “soul-tire.” I don’t think I’ve seen or heard it before, but it took my breath away with its aptness in this moment. I am taking it to my heart and will think of you when I use it to describe what only it captures.
Ted and I voted several weeks ago, and I now feel a bit of emptiness not to be able to join my neighbors at the polling place today, but this afternoon I have devoted to giving rides to anyone who needs it to exercise our precious franchise, so perhaps I’ll recover from that empty feeling in the company of my fellow citizens voting.
Be well, Paul, and hugs and much love to both you and Pontheolla.
Ah, Karen, to give rides to any who might need a lift (I employ that word both literally and metaphorically) to the polls is a blessed offering of service. Thank you for doing this.
As for “soul-tire,” oft I make up words, sometimes quite spontaneously, in an effort to capture and articulate what I’m thinking and feeling. I am happy and sad, at the same time, that you find the term useful, for it means that you know and are experiencing a depth of pathos about the current state of our (dis)union. I pray your peace amid these roiling waters. Verily, I seek to awaken the Savior that he might proclaim, “Peace! Be still!”
And, speaking of words and phrases, I love your “the joint (although not at all one and the same) yoke of faith and citizenship.” Yes, this captures beautifully for me the tension, coining Johannine language, to be in, but not of the world. I thank you for it.
Love always and in all ways to you, Ted, and Emilia,