Archive for the ‘Ethics’ Category

Voting

October 2, 2016

In case you hadn’t noticed, this is an election year. That means we ought to spend some time thinking about voting; what it means and how we make decisions about candidates and issues.

There are a lot of things we could talk about, what do do when neither candidate is a good fit with what you believe, (fyi, get used to that, no candidate is ever a perfect fit), where to find accurate information about positions, does voting even matter.

But that’s not what this post is about. I want to consider who we vote for. I don’t mean which candidate we vote for. I mean who in our nation we vote for. Who is our primary concern as voters?

For years we have been encouraged to vote for our values. We have been asked “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” Candidates assure us they are “fighting for you”. Most of us view voting as an action mostly concerned with our personal well being. Will candidate X be good for me?

As a Christian I think the question should be “Will candidate X be good for others?” By others I mean the marginalized of society. How will the poor, the ill, the disabled, the unemployed, the immigrant, the prisoner fare with this candidate.

My vote should not be about me. My vote should be for others. As a Christian, “what’s in it for me?” is not a question I ought to be asking.

I think about food insecure college students I know. I think about the LGBTQA+ community. I think about young black men. I think about the mentally and physically ill.

Do I know what is best for all these groups? Of course not. But I do know some things that are good for them. Safety, decent housing, adequate food, equal opportunity. So I ask myself, which candidate will work for these things?

One of the grand themes of the Bible is God’s concern for the poor, the widowed and the orphaned. Those, in ancient times, were the oppressed and suffering groups. From Cain’s rhetorical question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”,  to when Abram was blessed to be a blessing, to  Torah,  to the prophets, to Jesus, to Paul and John and the faithful since then, we are to be  our brother’s keeper, a blessing, concerned for the poor, suffering, and marginalized.

One of the ways we do this as people living in the United States is by how we vote. Not my values, not my self interest. God’s values and God’s interest.

Before you step into the voting booth this November, from the top of the ticket to the bottom, think about what you vote means. Who’s interests, who’s well being, who’s future are you voting for?

Not my circus, not my monkeys?

April 10, 2016

A friend posted this on Facebook the other day.10390893_10154086303984993_6567104136264739898_n

It is from Unoffendable: How just one change can make all of life better by Brant Hansen. I haven’t read all the book, so I am only commenting about this quote).

We Christians know, at least we ought to know, God doesn’t need us to defend the faith, or the Bible, or even God. They all got along just fine without me for 2000 yours. I’m simply not indispensable. And, dear one, neither are you.

This is not the same as saying that we don’t matter,not at all. We do matter. But we are not in charge of “the preservation of Christianity in our present age”.

My job is not to be sure everyone around me behaves and believes appropriately. That is exhausting and not possible. Believe me when I tell you this. I spent many years trying to be sure everyone behaved and believed. And was happy. And ate healthy meals. And went to bed on time… you get the picture. It is exhausting. And futile.

Or this happens. Someone got something wrong on the internet! Someone posted something I think is wrong on Facebook!  Making sure everyone is correct is exhausting. Sometimes we just need to let those things go.

Often I need to remind myself, “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” A slightly better way is to remind myself of the Serenity prayer.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
Amen.                          Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

Certainly there are some people I have greater responsibility for- family, close friends and so on.In those relationships I may feel the need to express a concern about someone’s behavior. But I still can’t make them listen. I still can’t make them behave.

As a Christian I think I have to have a concern for everyone. But that concern isn’t to make sure everyone behaves. My concern for others should focus on their well being. Do they have enough to eat? Are they physically safe? Can they get to the doctor? Those sorts of things.

The one I am in charge of is myself. It’s my behavior I need to be concerned about. I have is to make sure I behave. I have to try every day, well to be honest, every minute, to be a faithful Christian. That’s a full time job.

The odd thing is, if I attend to being a faithful Christian, I end up being more helpful to others. People are more willing to talk with me and to listen to what I say, if they know I’m not judging them. If they know I accept them for who they are,  they know they can trust me. If they know I’m not going to “fix” them, they can tell me what is broken.

Odd how that works. Or maybe not? What do you think?

 


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