I was making coffee before saying my prayers this morning, browsing the news on my phone while I waited for the grounds to finish steeping. Knowing better and in spite of myself, I read some of the coverage about the presidential debate from last night.
At one time in my life I was deeply involved in state politics. I even considered a run at a statewide office, but thought better of it because of the cost in time and money, and the cost of taking my family into that messy arena. Since then, I have become outwardly apolitical. If you want to engage in a political discussion with me, sorry, but it won’t happen.
Politics has always been a rough and tumble sport. There are many, many examples of anger, name-calling, vendettas, and personal attacks, both figuratively and literally.
I know about recency bias, and this may well be an example of that phenomenon. But politics today seems just so … ugly. No longer do we just disagree, sometimes passionately, on policy. Now we attack, going after people on a personal basis. Then we refuse to even associate with those who would dare believe differently than us.
This is not my discovery. Much has been written on the ugliness of politics today, but to see it in play in a “debate” between individuals who want to be the leader of the most powerful nation in the world, was disturbing.
In the Office of Readings, we are reading from the Book of Proverbs. Today’s selection seems like a perfect response to the cruel and petty nature of politics today. Solomon tells us
It is the lips of the liar that conceal hostility;
but he who spreads accusations is a fool.
Where words are many, sin is not wanting;
but he who restrains his lips does well.
Like choice silver is the just man’s tongue;
the heart of the wicked is of little worth.
The just man’s lips nourish many,
but fools die for want of sense. (Prov 10: 18-21)
The second reading, from the Explanations of the Psalms by Saint Ambrose, gives us direction on how we are to oppose the foolish ways of these politicians. Saint Ambrose tells us:
It is also written: Open your lips, and let God’s word be heard. God’s word is uttered by those who repeat Christ’s teaching and meditate on his sayings. Let us always speak this word. When we speak about wisdom, we are speaking of Christ. When we speak about justice, we are speaking of Christ. When we speak about peace, we are speaking of Christ. When we speak about truth and life and redemption, we are speaking of Christ.
As disciples of Jesus, stewards of his many gifts, let’s speak of Christ rather than getting lost seeking the false, transitory power in politics.