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Assistant Minister's Column

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With the runoff elections fast upon us (Remember To Vote November 21), we will be inundated with political ads and mudslinging. Here is my four part remedy for religious people living in partisan times.

 1. Discern what you believe. I was recently asked by a political surveyor which of the following factors best determines who I will vote for: taxes, social issues, education, or healthcare.

     I know based on my political affiliation which of those options is the partisan answer I’m supposed to give. I know the answer I’m expected to give based on the cable news channel that is marketed towards my perceived partisan ideology. But the truth is that none of those reasons is why I vote the way I do.

     I told the poor pollster, whose whole job is to fill in this form over and over all night every night, that none of those is why I vote. I didn’t want to be obstinate or rude, but I couldn’t lie either. I asked him if I could have a write in category for “justice.” He said he couldn’t and just checked none of the above.

     It’s important that you discern what you believe independent of partisan worldviews.

 2. Trust your own emotions and experiences. We all come to our political beliefs from our own experience. It might be how we were raised, or what we experienced in the world, or how we’ve made sense of things. If we share our experience and, more importantly, how that experience makes us feel, we can forge the social connections needed to build a stronger world.

 3. Listen deeply to other people’s experiences. The ideology that fuels a partisan world is the view that there is a right idea and we should battle to prove our persuasion correct, using talking points, intellectual maneuvers, tricks, and evidence of the personal failings of anyone with whom we disagree. But that fight does not change minds, it does not bring about the beloved community. It means one person feels that their experience was proven valid and the other person feels invalidated.  

      I hope we can stop trying to fix people’s ideologies. That just leads to more intransigence and stubbornness. Our faith teaches us that deep inside every person is the ability to discern the truth and bend the universe towards justice. Trust that the person you are talking to has that same capability. Listen to them, deeply, to find out what is meaningful in their life.

 4. Love every person with all your heart mind and soul. Gridlock happens in government because our elected officials are accountable to the people who elected them. If the people who elected them feel unloved and ignored, they will demand more gridlock.

     Treat each person as manifestations of the most holy. This is how we will make the government we need, this is how we will bring about the world we deserve. This is where justice happens.