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Romney and Obama: Thou shalt be nice

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Like it or not, we’re in the thick of America’s presidential election season.

You’d have to be lost in the Himalayas or drowning in the Amazon to avoid it.

At least for now, I want this space to remain fairly unpolitical. Maybe that will change in the future – I don’t want to bind myself to any promises. But I also can’t divide my life into neat little compartments and pretend that it’s not all overlapping.

Politics, motherhood, faith, family, my work, my friendships, my passions, my convictions. It’s all connected in a very deep, very real sense.

I’ve had an interest in law and politics since high school, and as I’ve grown and matured, my interest has only expanded. I’m perhaps not as vocal as I once was (unless you’re asking my husband), but that’s only because my perspective has matured (I hope) and my respect for others has become more genuine.

I bite my tongue a lot more these days. A lot. And I rarely–if ever–rant in public forums.

In saying that, I have very strong views. Always have, always will. I make no apologies for that.

I love a good debate. I love to discuss ideas. I love to be challenged in my thinking. And I love to think that I can sometimes challenge others.

Of course I disagree with certain positions, but I’m okay with that. I have absolutely no problem with agreeing to disagree.

What bothers me are two main camps of people:

1) Those who are indifferent – who don’t take voting seriously and have no clue that hundreds of millions of people around the world would give almost anything to have a voice in their nations. Sometimes individuals within this group avoid the polls all together, or sometimes they just blindly cast a vote according to what political party the majority of their family, friends, or circles affiliate with. Oh, how this grates me. Words can’t articulate.

2) Those who refuse to listen – who base all of their opinions on what “he said, she said” but have taken no time to actually listen to the candidates themselves. I realize this is a tough one – there is so much rhetoric, so much hearsay, and so much gossip surrounding the election process and it can be hard to discern between all the voices. I enjoy listening to analysts and commentators and reading political blogs, but if we are willing to listen to people talk about what these candidates say, then shouldn’t we also be willing to listen to what the candidates say for themselves? Let’s stop putting words in their mouths, stop quoting them out of context, stop passing ridiculous rumors around facebook, and start listening a little more. This is hard – oh yes, I know. But we really need to try.

There’s an old proverb* that says,

“It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way.”

There’s another old proverb* that says,

“The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him.”

At the end of the day, our two main political parties have put forward who they believe are the best candidates to lead our nation – Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. These are educated, intelligent, moral men who are capable of shouldering leadership in measures that most of us could never dream of. (Nor would most of us want to dream of.)

Both have stated that they are qualified for the job, both have the support of their wives and families, both passionately declare that they care about America and her 300,000+ million people, and both are willing to put themselves out there on our behalf in order to move our nation forward.

So… why can’t we just believe them?

Even if our strategies, standards, and moral codes differ in certain areas, they still deserve our respect and {gulp!} even our kindness.

Yes, I believe that one of the candidates is more suited for the job.

But I also believe that America is much more than one guy. Let’s remember that we the people have the ability to be the nation that we envision.

Don’t leave it to Romney or Obama, the right or the left to determine the fate of our people. That’s a fatalistic worldview that will get us nowhere – que sara sara (“what will be will be”) – and that’s certainly not what our founding fathers had in mind when they laid it all on the line to forge a new way of life for their families and future generations.

The state of our nation is a direct result of the people in her fold.

Some of those people are born here, some are not. Some live within our borders, some live abroad. Some are Mormon, some atheist, some Muslim, and some Catholic. Some are gay and some are straight. Some are unfathomably rich, and some are woefully poor. Some consider themselves “elephants”, some “donkeys”, and some prefer to stay out of the zoo entirely.

Our responsibility is not only to our nation, it’s to one another.

On October 6, 1774 John Wesley (founder of the Methodist movement) wrote in his journal:

“I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them, 1) to vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy; 2) to speak no evil of the person they voted against; and 3) to take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.”

Almost 250 years later Wesley’s words are still incredibly potent… and exceptionally relevant.

Let’s be a people that don’t take lightly the privilege it is to have a say in the way our nation is run, but let’s also be a people that “speak no evil” and who “take care that our spirits aren’t sharpened” against those we disagree with.

Let’s be nice.

And if you don’t have any friends on the other side of the aisle, perhaps you might consider reaching out to others who see life from a different perspective? Some of my dearest and most respected friends have extremely different political views, but we make each other’s worldview wider, and–hopefully–we help each other’s take on life to be a little bit more gracious and forgiving… and promising.

Now, if you haven’t already, go register to vote. And then… do a little homework. For all of our sake. Seriously.

Dear friends, how are you feeling this election season?

p.s. That photo is my baby brother, dressed in his cheesy 4th of July shirt. Along with my husband and dad and father-in-law, he’s probably the nicest person I know. (Seriously, the men in our family are just niiiiice. And I’m not just saying that to be nice.)

*Proverbs 19:2 and 18:17 quoted from the Holy Bible.

9 Comments

  • Reply Mandy@ asortafairytale 20 October 2012 at 2:45 am

    LOVE this!! I take politics very seriously. VERY seriously. And truthfully, even if someones views are totally different than mine – I’m fine with that as long as they’re educated. What bothers me the most are the people who only start paying attention the month before the election. Its those people that vote for the “trendy” candidate, or listen to the media bias, because that’s all they have to go on. It’s SO SO SO important to always be aware of what goes on all year, every year. That is the only way to stay truly up-to-date and educated about how our President is doing, or not doing. You know what I mean??
    *end rant* WHEW.
    Mandy@ asortafairytale recently posted..be kind.My Profile

    • Reply Adriel Booker 20 October 2012 at 4:01 pm

      Yes, I knew you had an interest in politics too. And I think you’re very right. It’s not the best route to wait until the last minute and then try and sort out a stance. That’s when you just end up getting swept away with all the hype!
      Adriel Booker recently posted..hi guys, it’s me.My Profile

  • Reply Jack 20 October 2012 at 5:06 am

    It is extremely difficult to control the emotions when injustice is being committed, and you see people vote for their self-interests instead of mercy. I’ll be frank. I’ll never understand how people assign more weight to other issues than abortion. Abortion that robs a separate person with his/her own DNA of a heartbeat. If we can’t even protect the right to life, how in the world are we going to protect liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But even beyond that, how can we stay silent when legislation is passed that violate our very freedom of religion, ie the HHS mandate, that will be implemented by the new healthcare law. I trust no man with power or vast amounts of money so while I care deeply for the poor, for widow, for the disenfranchised, I would rather be accountable to God for how I spend my money, my time, my energy than give more of my money and rights to a government which is so easily corrupted.

    • Reply Adriel Booker 20 October 2012 at 4:04 pm

      Yes, it is extremely difficult to control the emotions when injustice is being committed – I couldn’t agree more with that statement. I suppose it gets even trickier when people have different views on what “injustice” is. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.
      Adriel Booker recently posted..a drink of water (josephine’s story)My Profile

      • Reply Jack 20 October 2012 at 11:11 pm

        I would actually venture to say that “injustice” is a less relative term than you so politely surmise.

        • Reply Adriel Booker 21 October 2012 at 4:46 pm

          I’m pleased that you consider my response “polite” Jack, but I would challenge your statement about injustice. Injustice is a very relative idea – leaning entirely on an individual’s (or nation’s) moral code. Yes, there are some things that are fairly universally accepted as being unjust (murder, stealing, rape), but there are many, many others that one person may deem as unjust and another may not. Some people do not eat Snickers bars because they believe the forced child labor used is incredibly unjust. Others have no issue with grabbing a Snickers and would never consider that feeding into injustice. In some nations women aren’t allowed to vote – also not considered an injustice by their male counterparts. And elsewhere there is no public health care or social welfare for the poor, which some nations would consider an extreme injustice, while other nations wouldn’t bat an eyelid at this issue and would never deem it unjust. There are hundreds and hundreds of examples like this. Each person defines injustice by their own personal moral code, which is influenced by our religion, upbringing, culture, media, education, the times, etc. I think I understand what you’re trying to say, but I also think you’re implying the issue of injustice is simpler than it really is. If justice/injustice were that simple–and universally accepted–the world would have far fewer problems than we do today. Further, justice–in my opinion–always needs to be undergirded by kindness and mercy and generosity. That is my personal conviction according to my values and my faith.
          Adriel Booker recently posted..bokoro’s story | giving birth in the mudMy Profile

  • Reply Jack 22 October 2012 at 3:09 am

    I think you are confusing “relative” injustice with people’s reaction toward it. No doubt people are ignorant, indifferent, and have myriads of divergent opinions. But we have absolute truth because there is a God who ordains it. From thus flow DEGREES of injustice, ie murder vs. voting rights, abortion vs healthcare. Which is also why thousands of Christians may feel that a man denied treatment because he does not have insurance is unjust but feel that without the right to life, all other rights are meaningless. People may feel paucity is unjust but that there are better, workable solutions for poverty than welfare, solutions that empower not merely enable. People who feel keenly the disparity around them, but may not endorse “public” healthcare or “social” welfare while still supporting healthcare for all and quality living standards. People who abhor that homosexuals are ostracized and derided but feel that marriage is because of the life-giving act between a man and a woman. People who hate that people live out of cardboard boxes and drink the same water they defecate in, but know that God uses but doesn’t need government to accomplish his purposes. Faith informs us, love propels us, hope sustains us-we are the Church called to act to change the world around us-as you so wisely said, we are called to kindness, mercy, and generosity. So while government has its functions, it should never replace the role we have as people responsible to a Most High God for how we treat those in need. The larger, farther-reaching it grows, the greater the propensity toward corruption. The more power we yield a government, the less free we are. The more we surrender to Him, the more alive we become. So yes faith/opinion/contumacy compel people to act differently, but injustice is injustice no matter the person. And a government cannot solve a problem that only God can, working through the hands and feet of people FREELY giving, committing, and sacrificing their lives.

  • Reply Yolanda 31 October 2012 at 2:07 am

    oh I hear you on this Adriel. I am so tired of the politically charged facebook statuses and the negative mailings, etc. I’m discouraged by how rare and difficult it can be to have an open and respectful dialogue with people, whether it’s with coworkers, friends, or family.
    on a separate note, hello! just wanted to say hi! 🙂
    Yolanda recently posted..Gray Hairs and a Lesson on Beauty from My SonMy Profile

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