Day 16 in Proverbs
OK….for my birthday month of July decided to take a jog through Proverbs and blog on my thoughts. Got behind when on vacation, but I’m BACK! (Also got behind on the 4,000 squats I am supposed to be doing during the month of July….but am halfway there, so will catch up before the month is over and complete the task!) So here goes….first things first…..going to try to start catching up the blog!
Proverbs 16:9-15 “We make our own plans, but the Lord decides where we will go. Rulers speak with authority and are never wrong. The Lord doesn’t like it when we cheat in business. Justice makes rulers powerful. They should hate evil and like honesty and truth. An angry ruler can put you to death. So be wise! Don’t make one angry. When a ruler is happy and pleased with you, it’s like refreshing rain, and you will live.”
I make no secret of the fact that I am disgusted with our political process, but I think I am a bit unique in that I am more disgusted by the average citizen than by those politicians we have elected. It’s odd to me that we elect our rulers, yet they get even less respect than someone who gains their power through a royal system in which it is inherited. The venom with which people speak of people they have never met and from whom most of their knowledge is by clips of TV news astounds me. Or even worse, when they haven’t watched any TV news, or read any political positions, or gotten to know any candidates, and their knowledge comes only by hearsay…normally by someone in their political party, who they may know, but more often than not they also just know by sound bites. Or it comes from the way they look….and how we think they think.
So when was the last time you looked at a politician with views that oppose yours and said “Rulers speak with authority and are never wrong”? Yeah, I am a skeptic, too, but I also think maybe things could be a bit different if we believed in their power of the office a bit. Maybe instead of having to sell us a product their whole time in office, they could have the freedom to concentrate on issues more than PR. Because I don’t have a strong political affiliation, I like to hope I remove myself from a lot of the rhetoric when I vote. It’s impossible to remove yourself from it all….but I think it is up to ourselves to make sure we are making as pure a decision as we can. And no….I don’t think I am there yet. I still approach the whole process poorly. But I desire to learn and grow in that area…..and when you commit to that path, you usually can find your way down it.
I don’t think it is easy to always make correct first impressions about people anyway (my thought is that if you think you are really good at it, perhaps you refuse to ever consider you may have been wrong), but politicians? It is about impossible. They get trained to not say anything that shows who they really are. Is that what we want? Perfection is overrated…..and probably does not make for the most compassionate leaders. I’d rather someone who has come through the trenches, been wrong on occasion and learned from making mistakes. I think some of our greatest leaders have at times in their lives been some of our most imperfect people. From the beginning of time that has been the case, I suspect. I’d rather someone who makes an effort to know their constituents, who listens to what they say, spends time figuring out the bits that are truth (recognizing that what comes out of our mouths is often based on our own experience, our emotions, and not necessarily that of the good of the general public), who studies the issues and then makes the best decision they can at the time.
I was a Broadcast Journalism major in college and I know what goes on beyond the camera when a TV show is being produced. The job is to make good TV….and if that is their primary goal to please those people who provide the funds to enable them to do what they do. You can’t let that leave your mind. That’s not to say that there aren’t a lot of people on integrity in the media….I think most have more than the average person. But your mind changes a bit when you do that full time. I worked on a local TV station when I was in college and we were always looking for a good story. You had to have good stories for every show, so anything you see, any conversation that you have, anything you learn….you are viewing it with “So what is the story here?” at the back of your mind. When that happens, you have a certain point of view that is unique, but also sometimes becomes a bit artificial. Great sound bites seldom tell the whole truth.
So how do we choose leaders? I say we try to get to know them. Beyond the public forum. That’s tough to do….and as I say this, I must also say I really don’t want to. I don’t always have a lot of patience with political types. But what should we look for when we do? Not someone who agrees with us on every issue, but instead people who like honesty and truth. Those who fight for justice for all people. Not just for you and your issues.
We believe that it is the job of the politician to please us…..and in many ways in our system we have made it that way. But as we get to know them, they need to get to know us. We need to please them. Offensive to your sensibilities? I understand! But if our interactions with our political leaders are as rabid crazy people, do we want to have the kind of leaders who respond to that? I hope they ignore the shouting. I want them to see the normal people. Those who don’t always speak with loud voices, but with compassionate ones. They need to see our hearts. We need to help them see beyond the rhetoric to the road of justice. That’s what should be the source of our passion….justice and mercy and kindness and honesty and truth.
Solomon, the writer of Proverbs, was king and definitely he writes from a certain point of view that we should keep in mind as we read what he says. We need to think through the point of view of the other person. We need to think through the point of view of our leaders. I am not planning to offer myself up for political office any time soon. I think it is on the same level as working for a church…..you must deal with the worst of humanity, be disrespected daily for reasons that have nothing to do with you, and do it all with a loving manner. I am low in patience for this and way too much of a seasoned sinner.
The verse about cheating in business seems a bit out of place here, doesn’t it? But we need to do our jobs the way we expect our leaders to do theirs. Honestly. Loving justice and mercy. Looking to God and not people to direct our paths. One of our jobs as a citizen is to respect our leaders. Not always agree with them, but respect them. Especially in this great country when they are chosen by the people. Whether we voted for them or not, they are still in authority over us and we need to respect them for that. It is a privilege to live in a free country, but we are not completely free. We have leaders who can impact our lives. We have laws that have come up, among other reasons, because we haven’t proven ourselves as a people who are capable of respecting other people without them. They are also to be respected. Let’s not waste our own time with anger, either theirs or ours, but instead work to actually get things done in our country. Meaningful things that will make this a country we are all proud to live in…..and one in which we won’t cringe when we hear a politician begin to speak.
We can go in with our swords drawn and win a battle or two. But they do have power….they can kill us in the war. I’d personally prefer as little government (laws, rules) as possible, but not in a country where people don’t understand the basics of respect for others. Respecting others requires we respect our leaders and those in authority. Once again, it doesn’t mean we agree. But there hasn’t been near enough respectful disagreeing going on….just lots of angry, useless talk that sounds a lot like Charlie Brown’s teacher.