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Political Signposts

I've been trying lately to describe why I like the Democratic party better than the Republican party and it's been difficult.  I just don't seem to have the right words.  But, I'm going to try.  Also, I have to emphasize that I do not believe that the answers to the questions I raise lie within any political party.  I am fully aware that the grace of God is the hope of creation (Romans 8).  My struggles are about which party best points to that hope.

I guess it all starts with a way of seeing.  In a very broad brush stroke, I have come to see things as 'very good'.  I see all created things, at the deepest possible level, filled with the Life and Light of God.  As St John wrote, 'God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him.  The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it' (1.3-5).

In our place in history, this view is the only way forward.  It sees the goodness of God even within our enemies who may have deep falseness within them (and who doesn't).  It also sees that we can't do this by ourselves.  We have been 'existing' long enough.  But to live, grow and love we need all of creation.  One group should not be getting better and better at the expense of other groups.  We need people who are willing to passionately, unshakably live the 'Sermon on the Mount' (or the Plain, whichever you prefer).  Creation needs people to live unquestionably thinking of others more than themselves; of going the extra mile; of not returning violence with violence; of self-sacrificial living and giving for others.  That is the only way forward for the cosmos.

It is through this way of seeing that I am looking at the two main political parties in the US.  And only one comes to close to those ideals.  The Democratic party.  Yes, I know.  There are plenty of Republicans who would answer yes to (most of) what I wrote above just like there are plenty of Democrats that would answer no to (most of) what I wrote above.  But, party wise, the Democratic party seems more inline with my way of seeing.  They seem to be are more concerned about community as a whole (be it the local community or the global community).

The Republican party, or perhaps the conservative branch of it, doesn't quite see things this way.  They seem to look more grimly on society (and creation).  They seem to believe that only the individual matters.  They seem to believe that the individual must take matters into his or her own hands.  That 'you gotta look out for number one, 'cause no one else is'.  That the resources of creation are there for the taking and let the 'best man win'.  This way of seeing doesn't seem to go past the present generation to our children or grandchildren.  It seems that some are only concerned about themselves.

Not only is the focus on the individual, but the 'right' individual.  Our enemies are seen as inherently 'evil' instead of being 'very good' at the foundational level.  And those 'enemies' can range from homosexuals to illegal immigrants to 'Muslim extremists'.  All of these groups (and more) are said to be the worst problems for our 'national security'.  And by the way, 'national security' seems to be a collective way of saying 'my way of living'.  Some of the Republican party think what's best for 'nation security' is to wall us in on all sides and keep everyone else out while we tell the rest of the world how to behave.  This 'us versus them' mentality will no longer work.

I know not all Republicans are like this.  I get it.  But, again, I'm not looking at individuals.  I'm looking at communities; at groups.  The whole 'guilty by association' thing.  This is both good and bad.  When things are going well, it's nice to be part of a group.  But when things are going poorly, well, it's not so good.  This is true of both parties.  But this idea of community is something I have been seeing a lot lately.

Biblically speaking, there is a lot more emphasis on community than on individuality.  For example, when Israel (the community) committed 'adultery' by worshiping other gods, they were sent into exile.  Now, individually, there were obviously 'faithful' people within Israel who did not go after other gods (e.g. Daniel and Jeremiah).  But that didn't change the fact that God looked at the nation as a whole and the entire community was sent into exile.

Likewise, St Paul wrote that the 'church' is the mystical body of Christ, a collection of different 'members' making up one body.  'When one part of the body suffers, we all suffer', he wrote.

But, for a lot of Republicans, the idea of community sounds too communistic, too socialistic.  And that scares them.  And rightly so.  There have been some horrible things done in the name of socialism.  But the same can be said about democracy -- colonialism comes to mind.  Injustice is injustice no matter if it's community based or individually based.

The way of individualism as the answer is dying.  A person who is sick goes to the hospital.  It takes the whole hospital staff to aid that person's recovery.  If I removed a finger, it doesn't survive on it's own.  It must be reattached to my body for me to be whole.  The same goes with the future of the world.  It takes all of us, working together, to make the changes we need.

So, for me, the Democratic party points more to the Gospel than the Republican party.  It wants to believe in the good and wisdom and light within all things, especially people.  It seems to understand that it takes all of us, collectively, to succeed.  And not only succeed but to live and grow and love.  It recognizes that it takes all of us working for the good of others; to help set the captives free from darkness and releasing the light within; that makes the future bright.

Peace be with you.

OD

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