Politics: Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

We live in a society of constant political consciousness, where political affiliation and party commitments have even risen to the level of religious zealotry. How can Christians thoughtfully and charitably engage in politics when every party believes that they are on the correct side of history, and any disagreement with a political position is perceived as malice toward the individuals in that group?

This week on the Ask Away podcast, Vince and Jo discuss the roots of our political conflict and point to the deeper reality at the heart of all our political strife, ultimately pointing to the God who treated his “political opponents” not as the enemies they were, but rather as inherently valuable creatures worth dying for.

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Its a special sort of world we are living in right now isn’t it? I think the safest and most effective way to discuss politics is to focus on the issues and not the people running the race. The issues are the things we vote on more than the people. I have some amazing discussions with my cousin who is very different from me in his political views but we just talk about the world and its problems and what could possibly make it a better and safer place. That is the basic root of all politics. Sensible discussions can be had from that place. I wish you the best

There were some good things said, but I really feel that they missed the mark on this one.
Here’s something that was said about 3/4 into the podcast:

“Even if I fundamentally disagree on the good we’re working towards, and how we should achieve that good, Most people step into politics because there is a desire for justice and a desire to make the world a better place; it’s just we may have different visions of what that is. So could we at least recognize that starting point as a good motivation even if we’re coming at it from different positions and we disagree on what the outcomes should be. It could really help us to see each other not as enemies but as actual human beings, desiring to do good in the world, even if we should need to have some conversation about what that should look like in order to come to agreement.”

I would say, Maybe… and Maybe not.

On one hand I can appreciate what Joe is saying here in an effort to mitigate the tribalism mentality that every other group (other than mine) is my enemy.

On the other hand, enemies do exist. And it is unwise to give the benefit of the doubt in all contexts. Hitler (for example) had a desire for “justice” and a desire to make the world a “better place”. It’s naive to think he intended to do evil or to somehow destroy goodness. His mission was for goodness… and to create a better world. His version of what that should look like however, had some fundamental problems; and it wasn’t a matter of saying "we’re all working to make the world a better place, we’ve just got different methodologies for doing so. The fact is, there’s something about that level of fundamental differentiation that is incommensurate with peaceful cooperation from the opposing party. (hence WWII).

So, Are the potentials for accidentally doing evil under the intentions of doing good any different today in politics?

“We learn from history that we do not learn from history.” Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

I would agree that Hitler is a classic example of living out what you believe, and operating in a political system to do it. (And we certainly have modern day types like Peter Singer who advocate basically the same ideology toward humanity because he has determined his own definition of good.) Most of Hitler’s success was founded on worldwide passive response to his aggression. Silence and inaction were serious enablers for violence, genocide, and unspeakable suffering.

How many lives may have been saved if powerful leaders would have expressed some consequences to his method of operating before he invaded Poland?

You asked

So, Are the potentials for accidentally doing evil under the intentions of doing good any different today in politics?

We know there is nothing new in the nature of man to prevent another Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, WWIII, etc. And we know things will become worse before the arrival of the Lord:

Because lawlessness will multiply, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be delivered. This good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all the world as a testimony to all nations. And then the end will come. Matthew 24:12-14

What we are dealing with is a difference in definitions. As Christians we say the definition of good is given to us by God. God is good. He is the standard for good, and has made His goodness known. Believers in Christ are called to proclaim His goodness as long as we are on the earth, and be vocal for Truth.

“No one is good but One—God." Mark 10:18b

But I think what Jo says still applies that we should have dialog with people respectfully and be willing to tackle tough issues that plague society in a way that brings benefit and respects the individual rights of each person for life and liberty. Our job is to proclaim truth, remain steadfast to the gospel, and exhibit courage where God places us. That will come in many forms in various opportunities.

It’s crucial that we have discussion because the true definition of good is disappearing from the political and cultural climates. We continue to demand justice while we declare that truth is relative.

It is when dialog is shut down that we should be very concerned. Silencing speech is usually the first step of tyranny and fascism.

We see in the news of violent acts against our brothers and sisters in Nigeria, North Korea, Cuba, China, etc. in the name of making everyone comply with their definition of good. Boko Haram, ISIS, and communist governments are currently living out their beliefs. While they do this Christians and objectors must remain faithful to the calling of the Lord because in the end we will all face judgement before the perfect and living God.

“Come, let us discuss this,”
says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they will be as white as snow;
though they are as red as crimson,
they will be like wool. Isaiah 1:18

When I consider possible courses of action, I ask myself:
If I comply with (or oppose) this, am I bringing grief or glory to my Lord?
Is my silence listening and meditative or is it complicit?
Is there anything I’m unwilling to sacrifice for my faith?
What is my opportunity in the current exchange to express the gospel?

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