The wife and I had a “discussion”. Discussion in this case means more than a civil discourse, but falls more along the lines of a disagreement . . . okay, we had an argument. It had to do with politics and who doesn’t argue about politics?
The peculiar thing is that politically—as politics are understood in our society today—we do not differ that much. We pretty much vote the same ticket when it comes to major elections. No, the argument had nothing to do with candidates or parties . . . it had to do with politics. We don’t see eye to eye when it comes to politics.
I have a major dislike for politics in any form. I see politics as not having to do with issues as much as it has to do with control—as in, who is in control? Who is the boss? Basically, since the time I had the privilege and opportunity to vote, I have seen nothing in politics that resembles anything close to the idea of a government “for the people, by the people”. The people have been lost somewhere along the line only to be replaced by what we are now are calling politics. It is a game . . . and a nasty game at that. The wife sees it as something else entirely and enjoys partaking in the process of getting “down and dirty”.
Our discussion came about rather obtrusively when I discovered a political campaign sign in our guest bedroom endorsing a candidate in the election. Now I want everyone to understand, the candidate that the sign was for is one that I am going to vote for come November 6th. I have nothing against the candidate and I do believe that he is the best candidate for the job . . . but I have a problem with the sign. The sign represents politics . . . the games that the so-called politicians play. From the start of the election season—about a decade ago, I proclaimed that I did not want to get involved in politics. I don’t want to play the game.
The wife wants to be supportive of her church member . . . as any good minister would want to be. I, too, would want to be supportive of any of the members of the church I serve as long as it was up front and honest. I think assuring the individual that I am voting for him should be good enough without having to declare it in public for the whole world to see. That was not what this gentleman wanted . . . he wanted our influence. He wanted our “Reverend” titles. He wanted us to sway the people we have been called to serve. That is not honest . . . that is a game . . . that is politics. I refuse to play the game. I let both the wife and candidate know that I did not want to participate in this falsehood.
Imagine, then, the surprise I felt when I saw the political sign sitting in the guest room endorsing this candidate. I couldn’t believe that there was an actual political sign sitting in our house! I guess I should be thankful that it wasn’t sitting in the middle of the yard, but it still rankled me. The discussion between the wife and I followed . . . let’s just say that we did not agree . . . and now, after the discussion, we still do not agree.
As a minister we are taught that there are boundaries from which clergy are not to cross as they would be conceived as unethical and immoral. Most often those boundaries have to do with relationships and more pointedly, with sex. Rarely do we ever talk about politics and boundaries. Oh, sure, we talk about the separation of church and state . . . what is acceptable from the pulpit . . . and what is considered “freedom of speech”, but rarely do we talk about politics. Politics can be—and, often is a boundaries issue.
Whether we clergy, or laypeople, like it or not, politics deals with how we relate to one another. Time magazine recently shared a poll that shared the effects of politics upon friendships using the “friending/unfriending” found on Facebook. Basically the foundation of the story and poll was that politics had a major impact on relationships as many unfriended those who did not agree with their political view or candidates. So far, despite the asinine posts of my friends during this election season that started a decade ago, I have forced myself to ignore them and not “unfriend” them. No, instead I have prayed to God that they see the light. God must be busy because nothing has changed since I started offering those prayers. At the same time I refuse to jump into the game and play.
Because as much as I want others to view me as being one of the crowd, that stinking title of “Reverend” keeps getting in the way. I have been amazed at how easily that title can change behavior and relationships once people know that I am ordained into the ministry. My title carries influence. It is a tough responsibility to carry being able to influence people—not because I am smart and wise, but because I have some sort of holy aura around me that tells people I know what I am talking about. This is one of the great mysteries of faith, I think. This was the intention of any candidate that wants the support of clergy on public statements . . . they don’t care about the name . . . it is the title that they are after. That is politics.
I do not like—no, I hate—politics. It makes my stomach hurt whenever politics becomes the topic in any gathering. I sit and listen to the falsehoods from both sides—which Time magazine also pointed out is a popular part of the game—and cringe at the lies that are thrown at the competing parties from all sides. I hate how people are used—not to better society or humanity, but to get votes.
Ah, but the games go on . . .
. . . and I refuse to play. This plague that occurs every four years is tiresome, frustrating, and annoying. I don’t like politics . . . politics is divisive and I don’t enjoy when the wife is mad at me. I would rather see a focus on honesty (imagine a politician agreeing to be honest) and the issues. It should not be a game. Put the facts out there . . . make the suggestions how the people—all people—can make a difference . . . and convince the us that you actually care about us as individuals and as a nation. There hasn’t been much of that in the past few decades.
In the meantime I refuse to use my title as a pastor to influence others in how that they vote. Personally it is no one’s business how I vote . . . what happens in the poll booth, remains in the poll booth . . . voting only allows me to lament when my side loses. I have not seen a whole bunch of anything that is going to solve our nation’s problems . . . but I have seen a whole lot of mudslinging and turf protecting. It is a shame that we, as a nation, have bought into this notion that this is the best that we can do.
I have rambled on enough on a topic I despise, thus it is that I finish with these words. No matter who you are rooting for—VOTE! It is your privilege and honor to have the ability to vote, so vote! In the meantime, there are no political signs in the yard . . . the wife still tolerates me . . . and the sun will come up tomorrow. In the meantime, leave me out of politics. Besides, I live in Montana and no one tells a Montanan how to do anything! VOTE!