Tuesday, November 6, 2012

to change the world

Today is Election Day and like everyone I will be glad when the election is decided, whenever that may be. Whatever the result the world likely will not end, and I have every confidence that tomorrow I will be waking to pour my coffee in the same glorious freedom that I have woken to every other day of my life.  And life will go on, laundry and taxes, with or without our preferred party President.  
I have no doubt that the political ideals each party represents are indeed noble and worthy of our passionate discourse.  But as tomorrow we no longer have politicians to carry the weight of our convictions in a campaign for government office, I wonder if we would not be wise now, on this election day, with political signs yet in our yard and ideals fresh in our mind, to turn our own beliefs and scrutiny upon ourselves.  
G.K. Chesterton was asked to write on the topic,“What is wrong with the world?” His reply was brief; “Dear Sirs, I am.”  

The terrible truth is that I cannot blame any politician for what is wrong with the world.  I am what is wrong with the world, and it is myself who I must change.  

This was brilliantly clear to me last week as we enjoyed a visit from dear friends, who we do not get to see often enough.  These friends of ours happen to be a single mother and her son, and we do not see them enough because life is incredibly full and hard for a working mother, raising her child alone.  
As she always does this friend challenged me on two fronts, one by how tirelessly she works without complaint, without asking for assistance though it is available to her, and more by the way she gives.  This friend is, truly, an example of the widow in scripture who gave her last mite, worth more to Jesus than the extravagant donations of the rich.  My friend who raises her son on on very little, without child support or help from family, gives to others out of her poverty; liberally, all the time, more than she should, much more than she can afford.  Maybe we could say that this single mother embodies virtues of both political parties, and it was a strong message to me that it matters very little how we vote, but how we live.  
I am reminded that the kingdom we seek is not one we ever will vote into office, but one that we live now as followers of Jesus, strangers on earth; a promise of a new humanity through the wild love of God in us. So let us live.

Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world.  
Today, I am wise, so I am changing myself.

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