Of my 5 children two are conservative, two are liberal, and one doesn’t care. This one may be the wisest.
At our recent family reunion the inevitable happened, which we all try to avoid but cannot, of a discussion that centered on politics, and the party platforms of policy. We talked about laws, freedom, the rights of the people, the poor, and especially about how we say or don’t say what we mean.
After the exchange I regretted it. Again. I regretted my inability to say what I meant, such that what I did say seemed to enflame rather than inform. In round-table discussion among many voices one doesn’t have the chance to ‘edit’ what one says, or to say it best. It comes out however it comes out, and often not well thought through. Furthermore, and perhaps worse, when riled up we get defensive and crank up the rhetoric to make our points, too often going further off course and more directed to the other person than the issue at hand.
After several days of processing this most recent debacle I had an interesting thought about what was actually happening. While trying to talk politics, we were really talking personhood. Perhaps they are inseparable, I’m not sure, but I think they could be.
Personhood is a very sensitive thing, isn’t it? Personhood gets right to the core. Personhood involves more than opinion, but embraces purpose, choices, and most powerful of all- identity. It’s who we are, or, at least who we think we are, or WANT to be. Personhood has at its very foundation the protection of the person! Look at “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs” and see that it flows up from Physiological needs to, Safety, Love, Esteem, and finally Self-actualization. We all want to dwell in the higher realms, but must first satisfy the lower realms in order to get higher. We want love and esteem, but first have to protect the self. Our ability to love and esteem others, which we want, seems dependent upon our own sense of being loved and esteemed, or at least safe and fed.
We may be well clothed and fed, sitting around the room having a chat, but once our identity is challenged, so is our safety, and everything else above! We devolve quickly into protectionism, and then to the attack! It never works. It never ends well. It never changes the other person’s viewpoint, and, in fact, probably deepens their resolve for the next time. Ouch.
I know I read somewhere that Jesus says we are to Love, even our enemies, and that we should Love first, not last. Really? Should we Love others at the risk of our own protection? Should we Love others at our own personal risk? Should Love come before our own personhood? In fact, IS my personhood separate from Christ? And if so, should I let it stay that way?
If politics has to do with personhood, and personhood has to do with Christ, and Christ has to do with Love…well, then, how should we vote?