We, U.S. citizens – and the rest of the world – have experienced months and months of the primary campaigns along with, continued campaigns toward the general election in November 2016. However, at this time we have two major candidates rather than almost twenty! Seems, in theory, like it should be pretty simple, doesn’t it?
However, could there be two more contrasting world views?
World views reflect and encompass a person’s values, priorities, choices, morals, ideals, etc. As you listen attentively to candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton what of these qualities stand out? Which match those that you possess and hold dear? In the midst of the confusing and, at times, conflicting messages what do you believe to be of utmost importance? What is your measuring rod? Your lens? Your barometer?
I believe, as people of faith, our grounding can be expressed with the words of Joan Chittister in Called to Question:
My metaphor for thinking about the world is The Beloved of God.
It means that I must tie my life to the voice of God in my heart as
I hear it through the poor, the oppressed, the disenfranchised,
and those with voices other than the voice of the institutions.
These words reveal a stance, claim positions and suggest alternatives to many scenarios existing today. I believe, when approaching political/moral issues, it’s important to remember some of those who have come before us.
Major historical movements and watershed moments in the recent history of the US have been influenced, and at times, orchestrated, by people of faith: Martin L. King, Jr., Cesar Chavez, the Berrigan brothers, Rachel Carson, Theresa Kane, Dorothy Day, Rosa Parks, Helen Caldicott, Elie Wiesel. Millions of grassroots, faith-filled people continue to work toward the systemic changes called for by these exceptional leaders.
Again, where do you stand? Isn’t it critical where we, along with all faith communities, choose to stand and with whom? I frequently recall the remarks of Father Dan Berrigan during the 1980s: “I would like to be a middle ground Jesuit but the times do not allow for this.” Isn’t his stance relevant for us? What does this mean and where does this place us in today’s political campaigns? I believe the times today do not allow for those of us who identify ourselves as persons of faith to be “middle ground”. But how do we bridge the growing glaring gap between those on the left and those on the right? What must we do to broaden and deepen the conversation?
Below are three questions/challenges which I hope are helpful for both the short and long run:
- Continuing to raise questions when women & people of color – both women and men are not at the decision-making tables.
- Deliberately seeking to become more knowledgeable about U.S. history, politics and theology – this enables us to more effectively discern what is essential to our faith.
- Asking ourselves what truth claims need to be questioned as assertions of power.
Finally, as citizens in an increasingly pluralistic and polarized country, I believe we are challenged to create more effective approaches to wrestle with critical and complex issues. Creative responses require taking new paths, participating in diverse coalitions, relinquishing traditional institutions and building new structures that will engender growth and reverence for life. This assumes openness and ongoing conversion ~ surely not an easy task but a necessary one.