I’ve tried to remain relatively silent about the upcoming elections. Like most everyone else, I am dumbfounded at the options that the American political process has placed in front of us. Without commenting on any of the candidates or parties that are engaged in the contest for the presidency, I am choosing to communicate my own thoughts about thIs milieu that we find ourselves. The reason I am doing so now, is related to the reason I haven’t in the past. Like then, I find all of this hand-wringing about the election largely irrelevant. In the last year or 2, a lot has transpired in our world that is creating anxiety, conflict, and mourning. We have been besieged by violence against African-Americans at the hands of police, senseless acts of terrorism against ordinary citizens in a Bible study, in a gay night club, or at a holiday gathering; and daily shootings of innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire between gang members who can’t shoot straight. These and many other evils like poverty and income inequality are all met with angry calls for the government to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! These demands are being made of a government that has caused the poisoning of the water system of an American city through it’s neglect – a government that cannot pass budgets to keep itself working, yet manages to pay themselves handsomely – a government that seems unable to do anything efficiently except prosecute and incarcerate people of color(and other politicians). Perhaps we are looking for help in the wrong place.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not an anarchist – a person who is against any form of government or established rule of law and order. I am not anti-government. I am not a Republican nor am I a Democrat, though I understand the necessary role of political parties in our particular system of government. However, I believe that man’s attempt to govern one another has always been disappointing. Disappointment is inevitable. In the best of times, we manage to make some progress as a society, but it is always at the expense of those who have little voice. And that very progress creates a backlash from those upon whose backs the progress was made but who did not share adequately in the outcomes. Those who have little voice and even less resources turn on each other in a struggle over what little they have. And while this struggle of the struggling plays out, human greed captures those who are enjoying the fruits – fighting to take more apples and oranges from the other guy. Inevitably the “have-nots” turn against the “haves”.
This is reminiscent of a centuries old warning given to one of the last judges of the Old Testament, Samuel. In 1 Samuel chapter 8, Samuel, a prophet, has been asked by the people of Israel to “appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.” Samuel who is displeased at the request prays to God about it and God answers. God tells Samuel that their request means they are rejecting HIM (God) as their king and then tells Samuel to warn the people of what their human kings will do. I’ll just summarize the warning this way – God says the king they appoint will take from them for his own means and give little in return. This is what happens when we rely too much on a man (or woman) to lead us. Certainly, God uses people to lead others, and God commands us to respect those who are in authority – whoever they are. (See Romans 13: 1-7). But we should have learned by now the old adage that “power corrupts”. The story plays out over and over again, in government, in businesses, even in church. A person ascends into a position of leadership with humility and a servant’s disposition but after a few years (or sometimes weeks) they exhibit the overbearing, power-hungry, selfishness that has become all too common.
It seems to me, in this election those who are vying for the coveted job of POTUS already exhibit the behaviors that many others unveil after getting the job. So whoever I vote for, it will not be a vote of confidence. In fact, I am not expecting much from whoever wins. And I am certainly not going to lose my mind as a result of this or any other election. But I prefer to dwell on the wisdom of Psalms 118: 8-9 “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.