When my sister and I were going door-to-door encouraging residents of my local state senate district to support a conservative candidate, we ran into a handful of people who just couldn’t be bothered. I remember one man in particular who had a lot to say about the corruption of politicians and his general disgust about the whole process. It was a feeling that I could identify with, though I could not agree with his final conclusion. He stated, with some apparent pride, that he didn’t deign to get involved in politics. I believe at the time I remarked, in so many words, that it was the presence of the corruption and evil, to which he had alluded, that drove me to get involved in the first place.
I’ve thought about that man and others like him that I have encountered during my life. His attitude it not an uncommon one, and it’s an understandable reaction, by a decent person, to the constant betrayal that informed, principled citizens feel when yet another politician proves to be nothing more than an ambitious, unscrupulous individual seeking his own aggrandizement and/or financial gain. But if we’re being honest we must recognize that, at its heart, this attitude is a form of cynicism. To be fair, I can think of few other things that would have a greater propensity to make one cynical than to pay attention to politics for the span of a year or so. But it is not the recognition of evil which leads to cynicism. If anything it is the passive acceptance of evil. Those who are most involved in the political process are most familiar with the evils of government. Even with what little involvement I have had to date, I sometimes wish I didn’t know as much as I do. It is weariness to hear of back room deals, of lies and betrayals, and of wicked men who have power over good men. I sure don’t do this for the fun of it.
So why should we pay attention to politics? Why should we stay informed and try to keep track of who’s been naughty and nice? (And admittedly it’s a distinct possibility that they’ve all been naughty.)
Because it affects us.
Everyone in America enjoys the freedom that remains to us regardless of whether they eschew politics or take an active role for good or for evil. Let no one think, because of this, that our daily lives cannot be impacted by the ebb and flow of political struggles. If we lose enough of the right battles the effects will be felt. And if the recent court cases over whether or not Christians can be forced to participate in homosexual marriages and abortions tell us anything, it is that evil will not allow us to go on passively doing right. You want to be left alone? So do I, but this much is clear: if we lose, you will not be allowed to go on in the same-old, usual way as you have been. You will be made to care one way or the other.
You want to be left alone? So do I, but this much is clear: if we lose, you will not be allowed to go on in the same-old, usual way as you have been. You will be made to care one way or the other.
The freedom and prosperity we enjoy in America are not the default, inadvertent state of fallen mankind. Look at any other time in history, and most other places on the globe and you will find oppression, lawlessness, and perhaps even outright barbarism. America is a remarkable and unprecedented exception to the norm. In fact it has been that way for so long that it has lead some to make the de facto assumption that our exceptionalism is the most normal thing in the world – quite ironic when you think about it. We are privileged to be part of this great historical nonpareil due to the labors of those who came before us, and by the continued labors of those who follow in their pattern. And while we recognize that she is far from being what she should be or once was, we must also recognize that what America could have been, and will be if evil is left unchecked, is a lot worse than what she is now. If history or the rest of the world teach us anything it is that evil is far from having reached its full potential. It can get worse – much worse. That America is not worse is due to the efforts of those who get involved and resist the growing evil. As Christians our ultimate weapon is in winning souls and thereby winning hearts and minds, but if that door is to remain as wide open as it is today in America, it will be because Christians stood and held it open. As ascendant as evil may seem to be today, the constant sound of battle we hear on all sides is our assurance that it does not yet hold full sway.
We cannot find escape from the evils of politics in our lack of involvement. Ultimately we must confront evil or it will confront us. This is the nature of evil and is, after all, the reason we call it evil. Mordecai’s admonition to Queen Esther, when the Jewish people faced annihilation, comes to mind:
“Do not imagine that you in the king’s palace can escape any more than all the Jews. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”
We, like Esther, have been placed in a position of unusual power. We can vote, we can speak the truth, and we can encourage others to do the same. We have been granted the opportunity of preserving safety and freedom for ourselves and our children. Perhaps we have time or money to give, perhaps like Esther, we can give nothing more than a voice with which to plead our cause. But who knows? Perhaps we have been granted what strength we have “for such a time as this.”