He startled me with his comment. It was dark so I hadn’t seen his face turn toward me before he spoke.
“I’ll be glad when it’s over,” he announced.
“School?” I asked since that’s where we were headed.
“No the election,” he said.
“Yeah me too—why what’s bothering you?
“The kids that I sit with in art keep having debates. They get totally out of hand.”
“Are you staying out of it?” I asked.
“Oh yeah I know better. I told them they should stop debating and start creating. That’s what we’re here for.”
“How’d that go?” I asked.
“Well all the other kids agreed. They said listen to Chase—for once he’s right.”
“You’re right a lot of the time honey,” I offered. The car grew quiet again and I hoped that thought would sink in and set a better tone for his day. Mine, however, felt troubled. It didn’t get any better when I logged onto Facebook later to wish some friends a happy birthday.
I should have known better the morning after the debates. It was a feeding frenzy—provocative headlines, sound bites, and commentary floating in cyberspace like chum on the high seas. The bloodier the water the harder it is to see anything that might actually be worth taking a look at.
Some of the bait is easy to ignore but other times any thinking man wants to comment. After all, a healthy public debate is what our democracy is supposed to encourage. However, this isn’t what you get online. Instead it’s almost always biased rhetoric rife with name calling and finger pointing. The partisan prism through which the American people see life these days is on full display. To comment on anything you run the risk of getting attacked yourself and that’s exactly what I experienced when I ventured out and commented on a few posts.
One friend suggested I’d drunk the “liberal Kool-Aid” when I offered a thought about a candidate I would like (Mayor Bloomberg) that isn’t even running. I knew they weren’t suggesting I was sweet. Another said that I couldn’t call myself a Christian and vote for a Mormon. Really? Would they say that to Billy Graham? It was also suggested that voting for a Republican was worshipping money. Hmmm???? I’m sure that was posted from one of the many handheld iDevices they bow down to.
It makes you feel like a kid at the dinner table afraid to say a word while their mom and dad argue. You’d like to offer a thought that might be relevant but to do so you risk having the finger pointed at you. At times biting your tongue feels like taking the high road but at other times you feel powerless— like you’re being silenced by political bullies.
To rub out the sting I went for my prayer walk. Walking past one yard sign after another I asked God am I wimping out? Do I need to stand up to some of these political bullies? Should I come out swinging like they do? Is this a situation where it’s not blessed to be meek? What Lord? What?
Rounding what I call the garden bend I got my answer. In a spot where I’ve only ever seen rabbits sneaking into a neighbor’s vegetable patch there it was—a nickel in the street. For me five always says no don’t go. It’s a stop sign coin for me. When penny finding started I found my first nickel under a sign in parking lot that said NO to a list of things. No stopping, no parking, no loitering, and no smoking. So many no’s it was silly but the point was still taken.
Is that your answer Lord—no to all of the above? Yes, the Holy Spirit whispered while I watched a bunny scurry into the garden. You aren’t wimping out. You should keep a low profile. Duck for cover if you have to. There’s nothing you have to defend or fight for. Some people are called to be peacemakers and that’s really hard to do if you’ve climbed up on a platform that collapses under the weight of your rhetoric.
Relieved my steps were lighter as I headed for home. I didn’t like the thought that I was shying away from a fight God might have called me to, but I hadn’t considered He might be calling me to the opposite. It seems Chase’s comment in art class wasn’t just for his peers. For many of us he’d framed it well. While there’s a time and a place for debating there’s also a time for creating. Come November 7th those of us called to that, can come out of hiding and tend to the garden. It’s going to need a lot of work.
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest therefore, to sent out workers into his harvest field.’” –Matthew 9:37
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” –Matthew 5:9