With less than one month of electioneering remaining, the battles intensify as all the candidates at every level begin their sprint to the finish line. Beyond the elected offices are thousands of local and state propositions. It can be overwhelming, but it is a historical privilege to have a real say in our future. Please get informed, pray often and vote! Our choices matter and the future of our nation rests upon responsible, virtuous citizens exercising their God-given and Constitutionally guaranteed rights.
But there is even more power in other choices we make. Who we elect is not the most important factor in our destiny. Both conservatives and progressives are concerned about our future, often for similar reasons. Conservatives are deeply troubled by the ever-expanding reach of the federal government. Progressives bemoan the increasing gaps between rich and poor. Conservatives see under performing schools and agitate for vouchers. Progressives see the same realities and opt for increased public funding. Economic uncertainly is the concern of all, with each group offering different solutions, but no one is in denial that we need change. Conservatives are deeply uncomfortable with a foreign policy that tries to accommodate enemies dedicated to our demise. Progressives want to change perceptions of America and express more humility and interconnectedness. Both groups eschew intolerance and want to minimize violence.
There are choices we can make that will alter our national trajectory, even if we keep arguing on many public policy matters. Here are a few that may unite us instead of divide us further:
- Apart from abuse, adultery and abandonment, we can stay married and serve our children. This is the single greatest factor for future success and stability, trumping economics and education. We can make sure our children arrive at school ready to learn.
- We can offer our companies, families and communities a full day’s work, with good motives and ethical-relational integrity.
- We can do business with the aim of adding value instead of extracting it from others.
- We can balance our own checkbooks and hold public officials responsible for how they spend the people’s money. (Yes, we will still argue over how to spend it – the key is not spending more than we take in!)
- We can defend the poor, broken and vulnerable, from conception to coronation.
- We can offer our time to help others instead of just agitating. The victims of social evils need friends as well as money and professional help.
- We can look for ways to create wealth, not just redistribute current assets.
- We can add beauty to the world by voluntarily celebrating and supporting the arts. Not every effort needs a government subsidy.
- We can make friends with our neighbors.
- If we turn off technology and get physically active, we are contributing to reducing health care costs without spending any money.
- Our prayers matter to God and the future of the planet.
- We can pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Affirming Israel’s right to exist as a beacon of democracy and supporting a new democratic Palestinian nation dedicated to peace is the only way forward.
- We can make some new friends across cultural and generational lines. It will be fun to eat new foods, understand new ways of seeing the world and build a virtuous consensus in our communities.
- We can reject hatred even while we critique choices and ideas. Every person we meet is made in God’s image.
Our nation’s future depends upon the mercy of God and the choices of millions of “regular” people. We can end the pernicious influence of pornography – there is an “off” button! We can reduce abortions by loving those already pregnant and helping the unmarried see the wisdom of waiting. By the way, the fathers need to own up to their part in this process! Civility is not passivity or just being sweet. Civility is looking for connections and choosing respect over rejection, affirmation over anger and forging new agreements when possible instead of picking up our toys and leaving the conversations.
At first, these choices seem self-evident and simplistic; however, actually living this way is a challenge. Sometimes there are addictions and traumas requiring extra care. We must not have contempt for those that struggle. But we must affirm the struggle! In our world of deep wounds and pernicious narcissism, the way of civility and service is rarely navigated easily. But it is worth our effort to offer succeeding generations a world worth enjoying.