I admit that, while so much of politics frustrates me, I have watched the government shutdown with morbid fascination. I have read articles, speech transcripts, and even the comments that pepper the bottom of web reports on most major news outlets. It is a tragedy on many levels when grown-ups can’t seem to piece together enough maturity to play together, but despite its ridiculous nature there is something of a silver lining in all of this from my perspective.
I have seen people, who I would normally describe as laid-back, become some of the most nicely-dressed savages I’ve experienced in my limited time on this earth. Normal, reasonable people have become so fiercely passionate about “something” that they yell, they boycott, and they even type social media messages IN ALL CAPS (so you know its a big deal). They have pulled from their own personal energy reserve, stayed up late watching interviews, and faithfully checked their phone for any breaking news updates as they visit the restroom in the middle of the night. There are t-shirts that throw aspersions on one side or the other, there are bumper stickers and ball caps, clever phrases, and memes…heaven help us there are thousands of memes – and all of this machinery has been mobilized and organized in a relatively short period of time, all for the sake of attempting to destroy the “other side” and perhaps to “let freedom ring”.
Thank the Lord for America. We need all of 10 minutes and an internet connection and we can have a custom made shirt that “lovingly” chides Harry Reid or John Boehner for being the world’s biggest moron, or colorfully and compassionately presents Nancy “Failosy” or “Dead” Cruz as less than qualified to help us navigate this crisis.
Yet, in all of this, there is a spark of hope. I’m not often romantically optimistic, but at times I can’t help myself. There is so much energy being expended in all of this that it made me realize, I didn’t even know we all had this much energy or free time. All this time I thought we were overworked and under-rested and tight-scheduled; turns out, I was wrong. We aren’t all that tightly wound it doesn’t seem. When it comes to doing something that we think is important we seem to be able to tame the bear of our “relentless” days and do that thing. Suddenly we become a nation of multi-tasking geniuses who can drive 75 mph, read the news on our phone, yell at talk radio, and absolutely own levels of Candy Crush…all at the same time, while surviving!
I have to wonder how much good could be done if we would only dedicate 1/10th of this passion to bring bread into hungry bellies, medicine into sick bodies, or spiritual light into dark places? Friends, I fear that the reason we often don’t engage in these things is not because we don’t have the time or the resources, but because we just don’t want to. How drastically would our nation, and even the world, be changed if we would simply replace half of our acerbic complaints with prayers for our enemies? How would the tenor of our individual lives be altered if we redirected that energy that we spend destroying and dedicate it to creating and restoring? And I know that the question lingers, “well if I don’t stand up and fight for our rights then who will?” – I guess I would answer this way: what rights are you really screaming for? It seems to me that in our country, right now with no changes made to any legislation, we can carry out almost all of the mandates that Jesus made in the Gospels. Friends, if anything deserves to be in all-caps it’s that. If we indeed lose our rights in the future to some rogue legislation I wonder if the nation, or the world, would know the difference. If my right to help a marginalized or impoverished citizen of America is taken away because of some rabid religious persecution, would my schedule actually look any different?
So what were we fighting about?