After the Worst Political News You've Heard All Year...
Ted Cruz stepped down tonight, which doesn't mean much to most of us in itself. I know a few die-hard Cruz fans, but most everybody I know is really just looking for some way to avoid voting for Trump or Clinton.
That makes tonight a difficult night for a lot of people. There's a lot of fear floating around. There's a lot of frustration and anger. We've never known a dilemma like this, and frankly, it makes us feel nauseated.
We're not sure who to vote for now. We're not sure what to hope for now. News like this has a way of overshadowing everything, of sinking our hearts and paralyzing us.
After the announcement was made, I felt despair clawing at me, so I sat in the quiet and wrote down a list of resources still at my disposal. I made a list of beautiful things that I love that politics can't shake.
I don't know if this list will help you, because we might not share the same values, but writing it helped me to find my courage. This list gives me a sense of grounding and purpose, so I'm sending it along, hoping it will inspire you somehow as well.
What would be on your list? What can't tonight's announcement take from you? I'd love to hear what remains after the dust settles.
EIGHT BEAUTIES POLITICS CAN'T STEAL:
1. The beauty of the English language.
I’ve read Hamlet more times than I can count, but after listening to this year’s primary election speeches, I cried while unpacking those delicious, old words of the Bard. My soul felt like it was going to explode at the density and color of Shakespeare’s language. I found myself thirsty for his precision, his wit, his careful constructions. Yes, we have seen some of the ugliest traits of human communication this year, but what we have seen is not all that humans can be. Instead of soaking in the barbarism, let’s make time to dip our brushes back in good things. Let’s draw some boundaries on what discord and chaos can infect.
2. The beauty of generosity.
We have been maneuvered by fear. We have been led to hate and mistrust those in need, and this is a double wound. The first blow harms those who are desperate for shelter and healing. The second blow bruises the hearts of those who could give help, but who find their compassion turned to stone instead. But we have a choice. We can continue to hear the cries of the needy. We can continue to respond to those nearby by opening up our own stores and giving of what we have.
3. The beauty of gratitude.
Politicians win votes by leading us to feel resentful and entitled. They tell us that we don’t have enough. The allure us with promises of more. But we don’t have to follow them into the bottomless pit of greed and discontent. We can be grateful for what we do have, notice our opportunities and our resources, and be thankful. Even as we work shrewdly against what is wrong with this world and try to bring about healthy change, we can abide in gratitude for what we have been given.
4. The beauty of true patriotism.
This word has become stained by misuse. Patriotism is not anger. It is not fear. It is not haughtiness. True patriotism is love for ideals that derive from universal laws of morality. True patriotism is love of order, love of human dignity, love of self-sacrifice, and loyalty to others who share those ideals. True patriotism is unity for the purpose of charity (in the good old sense of that word). I don't have to withdraw into an apolitical, apathetic Pilate's stance, washing my hands of the whole mess, and letting my commitment to my country grow dull. My spirituality doesn't somehow set me above "all this petty voting stuff." In fact, it protects me from the twin idols of political passivity and political hyper-aggression. It gives me a calm in the storm. Faith allows me have a good, clean love for America; it keeps me close to the earth; and it helps me care about the core of my homeland in a way that is healthy and beautiful.
5. The beauty of true strength.
The buffoonery and bravado of our currently political spectrum has left true strength in the shadows. That makes this a good time to trace back over the lives of those we admire and find ways to articulate why these men and women have impacted us. Deitrich Bonhoeffer. Corrie Ten Boom. Why do they move us? What can their lives teach us? Let us set our eyes on men and women who have known injustice, rejected the currency of corrupt leadership, and who have risen above it to focus on what matters most.
6. The beauty of memories.
I love that scene in the movie Camelot where King Arthur shouts, “Run, boy!” to young Tom. Even in the demise of his kingdom, Arthur realizes that the good vision has been caught and that all is not lost. Memories aren’t just the work of the past, they are a whisper that can move the future. There is generation coming behind us, and we need to whet their taste buds, strengthen their backbones, and tell them stories that will put whatever is about to happen into a proper context. "These are not darker times but sterner times," said Churchill. He was right.
7. The beauty of friendships.
We are not alone. We have a network of family and friends to tend and to enjoy. While we obsess about the news, we have friends who are sick, grieving, frightened. We can care for them. We have friends who are funny, brilliant, called to work these fields. We can encourage and enjoy them. The big “out there,” doesn’t change what we should do about the “in here.” And if all of us begin to devote ourselves to what we can do in small circles, perhaps this will do more good from the roots up than any politician could ever accomplish from the top down.
8. The beauty of God.
He knew what happened tonight was coming. He has a plan for today, for tomorrow, for the next day. He will never leave or forsake us. He loves us, and He's right here. He's got this. It's going to be okay.