So this morning I’m going to take a break from my usual content and talk a little about national politics and cynicism. It’s a short distance from throwing around well-timed jokes to sabotaging the entire process, and I think that although it’s far too early to be running a political campaign, it’s never too early to look critically at ourselves as media/political consumers, and to talk about how we can engage this coming election with both intelligence and grace.
I thought of the clown car joke a few days ago (evidently I’m not the only one), and then the Fox News debate announcement provided the opportunity. Quotes like this one in Tuesday’s US News and World Report just made it easier: “With the largest field of contenders in modern memory, organizers say something had to give to ensure the debate in Cleveland didn’t turn into a nationally televised circus.”
Well I’m sorry, the cynic in me says, it’s a little late for that. Granted, a circus is entertaining, and the presence of Donald Trump – while deeply troubling – has certainly ramped up the interest level for many people who would otherwise tune out. Like it or not, this parade has people’s attention.
DISCONNECT: All this brings me back to a good conversation I had with my friend David over brunch last week. We’re both in the same men’s Bible-study group at WFPC, and we were talking about the dangerous disconnect we see between “politics as usual” and the people our government was designed to serve.
“Being disciples of Jesus is all about moving from the affiliation of church membership to the intentional, day-to-day, practice of transformational faith,” I said. “I’d love to see our Bible-study group evolve into a leadership training ground, where the guys become catalysts for positive change everywhere they have an influence – as fathers, husbands, friends, employers, employees, team members, consumers… And voters too.”
So how do we move beyond enjoying the humor of images like “the clown car,” set aside the understandable temptation to fall into consummate cynicism, and become intelligent consumers, game-changing participants in the political process? And how do we do this without becoming so party-oriented we lose our objectivity?
As followers of the Living Way of Jesus, it is our responsibility to work actively for a world where all God’s children have the opportunity to thrive. We can’t do that and not participate in the political process, and we can’t make the kind of difference our faith – our radical trust in Jesus – requires of us unless we allow our cynicism to be replaced by love.