(The following is the text for the homily broadcast this Sunday, January 8th 2012 at 10am EST on http://blogtalkradio.com/grace-independent. You can listen to the service in its entirety by visiting the link or finding the Grace Independent podcast on iTunes.)
The Presidential election is underway and already we have seen the good, the bad, the ugly and the just plain strange in the Iowa Republican Caucus. Obama’s first term has provided the Democrats with an equal presentation of the same.
It does not matter what or who you support these days, there is no candidate that does not possess the core elements of hypocrisy, self-interest, a desire for power and who has made politics a career that has become the identifying qualities of politicians.. Whether the hypocrisy is intentional, it happens. There is a difference between what is said and promised in an election year and the reality of working within our political system. We get disappointed by the candidates we have placed so much hope in when they do not behave according to the letter of their promises. We act as if we have been betrayed and break off our relationship with them as soon as possible to shift our support to the next person who promises to believe exactly as we do.
We lose faith not just in our candidates, but also in the hopes we have for our lives and country that we placed in the basket that they carry. We lose our belief in change. We lose our trust in their representation.
This year we stand to lose even more. Religion and faith have become a tool for candidates to garner support. It could be because of their statement for a certain faith or against a certain faith. It could be because of their identifying themselves as representing a set of economic, social, foreign and domestic policies that are in keeping with the dominant religious beliefs in a small geographic area where they need votes. And the dominant religious beliefs may not be the majority beliefs of that area; they are the beliefs of the people who have a proven track record of turning out to vote.
Faith has become a tool of opportunity for politicians. Faith can be used to play to our emotions and cloud our desire to look at the totality of what a candidate represents by carefully evaluating their history. We have come to treat the electoral process not as a time when we evaluate the candidates as if we were hiring them for a job, but as a process in which we try to select a miracle worker based upon verbal promises.
After the votes are cast, we are left without our miracles and with an “employee” in place who has a specific agenda – to preserve their employment and advance in status by appealing to whatever is the current trend. We do not elect our presidents based upon their qualifications and abilities; we elect them based on their skill at making us believe that we can achieve our desires without effort.
The founding fathers of this country feared what would happen should one belief system become the dominant and enshrined governing rule of the country, just as they held a healthy fear of what would happen should the country become a Democracy. This is why the Constitution carefully lays out the construction of a Republic and strives to prevent, especially with religion, one set of beliefs from rising to control all else.
That is new thinking to people, that we are not a Democracy and were never intended to be one. At the same time, many people can give lip service to understanding that we are a Republic but few of them truly understand what is the difference between the two.
A Republic is based upon representation by elected legislators who have the power to create referendums that are presented to the public at large for a vote. A Democracy relies on initiatives originating from the public at large that are voted on and then passed to elected legislators to enact. The founding fathers had a healthy fear of what would happen should popularity, fashion and group think get a chance to determine the laws for all. They saw that this was the door to oppression and economic instability. There has been no pure Democracy in the history of mankind, the few governments who have attempted it have quickly devolved into Fascism, Anarchy or Dictatorship. A Republic, where the people are represented by legislators who try to balance the needs of their entire districts when creating referendums as well as negotiating with other districts/nations for a larger good, was seen as a more viable means of government that could preserve core freedoms.
We have come to believe that we are a Democracy and to try to push the concept of Democracy on other countries despite the fact that we have no experience in what it means to be a Democracy. Yet wearing the masque of Democracy feels good – it makes us feel like we are powerful, individual and in charge. Wearing the masque of a Republic does not feel so good because it involves recognition that we are not reliable enough to behave in a manner that will not oppress someone in order to preserve our own beliefs. Needless to say, because of this preferential masque of Democracy – now we do not have a country that is a Republic or a Democracy but a strange kind of…mess, part Fascist, part anarchy and wholly run by a dictatorship of corporate interest.
In today’s readings, we have a series of communications from God through the prophets, the disciples and Christ in which we are admonished that to become convinced that our own interpretations of the world are the only interpretations is to shut ourselves off from the entirety of life and escape our responsibilities. We will see a field of bones and not see that there is life still there to be welcomed; we will insulate ourselves and turn away from the world and not see that the world is necessary to our well-being; and we will think that there are people and situations that are hopeless and must be forgotten, missing that it is within responding to the most hopeless of situations that we find our hope again.
Consider your life.
How do you choose who to support in an election year? Do you choose them because they are the closest to representing the beliefs that you hold to be true? Or do you choose them because they hold beliefs that would best represent yours as they are in relation to the greater good of all?
Christ charged the world to love thy neighbor as thyself, and that is the only way to achieve peace, stability and security. We will not end hunger, we will not end poverty, we will not be free of oppression and violence until we choose to check ourselves, our beliefs and our choices against this commandment.
Will you place yourself before your neighbor or will you seek to find a way for both of you to move forward together? Will you vote for someone because they are your mirror? Or will you choose someone who stands for the greater good of all and has the history to prove it.
Invest your time wisely. I challenge you to take an hour a week and investigate the history of the candidates – not by going to their sites or reading news articles, but by visiting govtrack dot us. This site lists voting records and more without commentary or spin. I challenge you to take an hour a week to educate yourself on the reality of the candidates and what they truly represent. I challenge you to ignore the promises and commercials that are designed to appeal to your emotions and get your vote and to become an active citizen that chooses their representation based upon who is capable enough and consistent enough to consider all.
I challenge you to govern your choices according to the commandments of Christ.
I challenge you to make this the year that the United States returns to being a Republic,
With justice and freedom for all.
In the name of the Father,
c.2012 Cassandra Tribe/Grace Independent – All Rights Reserved