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October 27, 2016, 5:37 PM

How to Really Win This Ugly Eelection


IF YOU ARE CHECKING TO SEE IF YOU HAVE THE WINNING CARD FOR PIZZA DINNERS FROM PIZZA & PASTA EXPRESS, PLEASE READ THE ARTICLE BELOW, TO FIND THE WINNING NUMBER.  IF YOUR CARD HAS THAT NUMBER, PLEASE CONTACT THE CHURCH, TO HAVE IT VERIFIED, AND WE WILL ARRANGE TO GET YOU THE CERTIFICATES FOR TWO FREE MEALS.

We are slogging to the conclusion of the nastiest campaign season I have ever witnessed.  I’m not just talking about the Presidential campaign, I am talking about politics at almost every level.

Frankly, it feels like we're ALL losing this election.

We Southern Illinoisans are bombarded by political ads from Illinois, Missouri, and Kentucky.  Campaigns in all these states for virtually every office, have been long on insults, accusations, and questionable claims. 

Candidates have demonized each other to such a degree that we are left feeling  there are no good choices, and the best we can do is elect the lesser of two great evils.  As I watch them trash each other, I am reminded of a story Jesus told…

 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”  (Luke 18: 9-14)

Pharisees were religious leaders known for strictly keeping  Jewish religious customs and laws.  The word “Pharisee” meant “Separated.”  They sought to separate themselves from people they deemed sinful.  But in the process, the Pharisees often became self-righteous, like the guy in Jesus’ story, who yammered on about how holy he was, and how he kept all the religious rules of the time. 

His prayer bragging about how wonderful he was, closes with him tossing a sneer toward the tax collector and telling God he was glad that he wasn’t like him.

Tax collectors were hated, and not just because people don’t enjoy paying taxes.  They collected taxes to pay the salaries of the hated Roman army which occupied the country.  Roman swords backed them up. So, it was easy for the Pharisee to look on him with contempt.

Jesus’ listeners may have seen the Pharisee as full of himself, but they would have hated the tax collector more.  They would have been a hundred and eighty nine different kinds of shocked to hear Jesus say that God was more pleased with the tax collector than the rabbi. (By the way, you just read the winning ticket number.)

Jesus saw humility as an essential spiritual quality.  The Christian writer, C.S. Lewis, has stated, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself.  It’s thinking of yourself  less.”  The Christian mystic, Thomas Merton wrote, “Pride makes us artificial, humility makes us real.”

The need to tear down others is a product of pride.  And we see way too much of it in today’s politics.  Heck, we see too little of it in the rest of society, too.  We live in a time when narcissism is celebrated and all sorts of people feel entitled to attention, power, praise, and privilege.  We’re the selfie-culture.

Jesus warned that pride is having a log stuck in your own eye, that you can’t see, while pointing out and criticizing the speck in someone else’s eye.  It blinds you to your own need for improvement and correction.  Proud people think they have it all together, humble people know better.

Jesus laid out a principle for true leadership to his followers when he said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.”

Humility and service are hallmarks of true leadership.  Campaigns marked by trashing your opponents don’t speak of humility.

Maybe we should consider rewarding those few who at least do less trashing than the others.  Perhaps that’s how we begin to walk-back this dreadful and demoralizing trend.

In the meantime, we can make sure this toxic political trend does not infect us.  Please take time to find something positive to say.  In fact, let me be so bold as to suggest you find something good to say about someone with whom you disagree…maybe about politics.  Make a point of sharing that affirmation with them and others.

It’s a small things, I grant you.  But someone has to start healing the wounds we have been inflicting on our weary nation.

That would be a win for us all.


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