I'm not an American, but like many other Canadians, I found myself glued to the screen until late in the night watching CNN call state after state (don't get me started on calling a state before any ballots have been counted) for one candidate or another. As an informed citizen of the world, I had my own little opinions as to who the best candidate would be, and how the next 4 years would look in the ole US of A. At the end of the day it doesn't matter whether I was with Obama or Romney. First of all, I couldn't vote, and secondly, the election is over and the results are in.
I'm left this evening reflecting on the honest truth that if I had been in the US, I'm not sure who would have gotten my vote. As in Canada, we always seem to be voting for the lesser of two (or in our case several) evils. When we pin our hopes on human beings and proclaim their policy to be divine, we're bound to run into troubles. The fact is that after all these years, I've given up on the idea of a Philosopher King (sorry Plato. What a tease). There is no human being who can act in all ways perfectly according to how I believe God would act. There are elements that we cling to, and find enough of an anchor of faithfulness to morality that we'll wear a pin, put a sign up on our lawn, and even debate vigorously for our candidate in the streets. I find it tough to get so engaged in any one politician. I see positive and negative policies on all sides. Social justice, right to life, healthcare, education, all of it. No one candidate has it %100 right. So we wake up on election day to a close split and a promise to work together and go back to campaigning when the dawn breaks. There is no Philosopher King, just a collection of people as broken as we are struggling to figure out what's right, what's important, and what will get them or their party elected in another 4 years (or often less if you're Canadian).
I guess I'm a little disillusioned with the obsession with politics. Don't get me wrong, I believe strongly in civic involvement, and have never missed an opportunity to cast my ballot after careful consideration. I do not, however, act like the Apocalypse is upon us when my candidate isn't elected, nor do I thank Sweet Jesus like it's some kind of deus ex machina when I pick the winning team. Rather, I think what we could all consider doing is saying a prayer for whomever finds themselves holding the balance of power, that they would use it carefully, rightly, and with deep charity for the people who entrusted them with the guidance of their nation, state or province, town, or municipality.
At the end of the day, politicians will create their policies, fund their projects, cut this that or the other thing, and do their best to do what they promised to do in election speeches. So what are we left with? How do we change the world, like so many politicians promised us over the years? My thought is that all we can do is start with ourselves. If we want the world to be more Christian, we need to look inside our hearts and figure out what that really means, and then be Christian. Not halfway Christian when it's convenient, but Christian with our whole heart, mind, soul, and strength. That kind of Christianity doesn't offend people, because real, authentic Christianity is by its very nature a daily expression of love and charity, but done in humility. It is the act of being unafraid to speak the truth, but being able to do so with kindness, love, and gentleness. That kind of love attracts people. It doesn't lead people to call us extremists. That kind of love sets others ablaze with love. It inspires other people to look deeper into themselves, to re-evaluate who they are in the world.
Don't believe me? Look at Mother Theresa. Every time you see a video of her tending to the poor, sick, and helpless, don't you feel a little accusation in your own heart, and a call to be more than who you are today? Now, I know that you and I are no Mother Theresa, but that doesn't mean we can't inspire someone today, and change our world a little bit at a time. Imagine if we all embraced the true call of our faith, how simply being who Christ called us to be could really change the world. Politics can only take us so far, and often not that far at all. If we want to see the poor fed, the naked clothed, widows and orphans taken care of, and people in crisis supported, we are the ones who need to step up, organise, fundraise and finally share our own wealth as we can to make sure no one is left feeling forgotten. There are no Philosopher Kings. My only King is the King of Kings, Jesus Christ. He's the model I want to follow, He's the one who will work with me and through me to bring about real change.
The vote is cast. The election is over. Time for the rest of us to get to work.