The Internet is always exploding with opinions, but sometimes I am more aware of them than others, and right now there is so much spouting off that it makes my heart hurt. I've made no secret of my political leanings, but this isn't even about that. My side can be just as obnoxious as the other side.
I remember when I was a kid, politicians were the least trusted of all professions. No one thought that electing a politician was going to change the world. Now, we all seem to think that if we could just get our particular politician into office, everything would be fine. The only reason we're having problems is because that other guy was elected, or because the other guys are keeping our guys from fixing everything.
But you know, they're politicians. They're not miracle workers, they're not super human. It's unlikely that they'll make the world a better place. My parents used to worry that politicians had no core values, because they'd sell their souls to make a deal. Now we've got politicians who see compromise as a dirty word, who have built their reputation on being willing to bring the government to a dead halt rather than work a deal. But I think their fundamental impulse is still the same-- if they think refusing to compromise is going to get them votes, they'll refuse to compromise. If they see polls going the other way, they'll compromise in a heartbeat.
I'm sure there are still politicians who go into public service because they see it as public service, because they really believe they can make a difference in the system. And they probably can. But not as big a difference as you and I can make, by being kind and compassionate and refusing to allow differences in opinion to override everything else.
A friend of mine posted on her status the other day that she wasn't going to allow differences in politics to divide her from her friends. "I refuse to let a bunch of professional politicians take over my enjoyment of all of you," she posted. "You're not going change my mind and I won't change yours! Let's just keep posting pics of our families, pets, graduations, weddings, new babies, birthdays, words of encouragement, sympathy, and love of life!"
I'm pretty sure she and I are on opposite sides of the political fence, but I agree. I had a moment at church this last weekend that drove this point home even more. The sermon, which was excellent, was a meditation on chapter nine of the gospel of John, but what caught my eye was the last verse of chapter eight. Jesus gets into a confrontation with the Jewish leaders and they become so angry that they pick up stones to kill him. But Jesus, instead of standing his ground and refusing to back away, hides himself and slips into the crowd. Here's the author and founder of my faith, demonstrating that you don't have to take it to the wall every time a confrontation happens. Sometimes it's OK to just let it go.
I'm dreading the upcoming election season. I hate all the vitriol. But I'm making a resolution to do the best I can to tune out the political garbage, react out of compassion, and listen to the people I disagree with, really listen. I'll vote, of course, but I hope I can remember that the world changes when we change, not when a new group of politicians arrives in Washington.