Monday, March 6, 2017

Freedom in a Cynical Time

There is a particular aspect of politics in these United States that particularly gets under my skin. It's the "but your guy did this!" argument.

In recent days, we've had arguments about who used a private email server, who had contact with Russia when, and whether a former president and a former first lady can be friends.

Celebrity culture makes all take on a feeling of a WWE match, with people choosing sides of heroes and villains and hoping someone is going to go for that folding chair at ringside. It's not about what is true or right but about who gets in the better hits.

I've done it, will likely participate in this nonsense again. I am a part of culture as much as anyone and so much of what we do is reflexive according to the social cues we're trained to respond to.

But I'm thinking about freedom in Christ. I'm thinking about what this maybe sounded like to the first Christians in the Roman Empire. I wonder if the waters of baptism, the baptism of repentance, freed them from the culture of Empire, of power and slavery, of legal persecutions and crucifixions.

Can we turn away from this democratic government, this WWE shouting matches and "on the ropes" imagery and still participate in it? I continue to vote, I continue to write to my elected representatives, so I guess I think we can.

What I would like us to stop is pretending that any of them are "good guys" all the time. I voted for Barack Obama twice and believe he was generally good for the nation. I also recognize that he authorized the use of drones that killed innocent people, including children. I also know that he could work into his eloquent speeches references to killing America's enemies. These never escaped my attention, but neither did I find the words to talk about it. As a Christian who hates war and believes that killing never has any eloquence, I believe I need to learn where those words are.

I seriously have no answers here. I seriously lack any real response to what I would have us do in the face of violence. I have often said, at election time, that in an empire, you're going to have a Caesar, my job as a voter is to discern who is Augustus and who is Nero. I begin to wonder if the work of Christians is to be kind, show compassion, be helpers whether we have Augustus or Nero, because at the end of the day, either Caesar will crush you if it suits their ends.

This feels cynical. I want to believe in a national leader. I think I need to have learn the wisdom of serpents, not only the gentleness of doves.

No comments:

Post a Comment