It’s after the midterm elections, and some people are celebrating. Others are weeping and gnashing their teeth. Many haven’t given it a second thought. They’re mostly concerned with getting to work on time, changing the diapers or planning their next vacation.
If you told them that they should be concerned about the elections, they would probably agree, shrug their shoulders and push the app for ordering pizza. Apart from their immediate needs, they have little thought to what happens outside their own skins.
And then there are those others who are so energized and excited about every single issue that you can hardly get a word in edgewise when they get on that fast train of thought about whatever alarming article it is they read on the internet.
They are hyped up about one topic or another, whether it impacts them personally or not. They’ll jump from one subject to the next while you are still trying to figure out what started it all.
Saints preserve us if anybody starts mentioning specific candidates, parties or programs. Even if people have little interest in politics, they still get upset if you mention certain things and certain people. Then they’ll unload a truck full of opinions on you and you’ll wish you hadn’t even opened your mouth.
You try to get away and signal your friend by rubbing your nose that you need to escape, only to step into the next room with the guy who is on a tirade about candidate so-and-so.
It’s exhausting. Sometimes you feel like buying a mule, loading it up with coffee, beans, tools and snowshoes and heading off to the mountains to hunt grizzly bears. It would be less stressful and at least you’d get to see some nature. You might wind up as hors d’oeuvres for a large creature, but at least you’ll be free of politics.
Why is it that people avoid talking about politics? Why do their colons tighten every time they hear that trigger phrase? Is it insecurity that drives them to change the subject? Is it a bad memory of being kissed by a politician when they were babies, only to find that their lollipop had been stolen? What is it about politics that sets us on edge?
“But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.” (Psalms 130:4)
Forgiveness is a blessing all too lacking in our society, our homes and our politics. Forgiving that crazy brother-in-law, the disobedient child or the sloppy neighbor is something that takes years of practice, patience, humility and love.
It means letting ourselves know that we are not the gems of the universe, and that our ideology, our politics and we ourselves — are not God. It means forgiving that Democrat, Republican or Independent for pulling the lever, connecting the lines or punching the ballot the way they did. Forgiveness means letting go of our self-righteousness and our virtue signaling, and allowing something greater than politics to rule over us.
Vote! You really should you know. Every citizen should. It’s important. But it’s also important to realize that there are other things that last longer than elections, other things that are beyond politics, other things that are truly of cosmic significance, and forgiveness is one of them.
Oh dear, that’s talking religion and God and stuff. That could get us into even more trouble than talking politics. Where can I buy a mule?
The Rev. Roy A. Harrisville III is pastor of New Life Lutheran Church, Menomonie.