As a Christian, it is clear that we are to be about the good news in its fullest expressions- eternal salvation, feeding the poor, caring for the widows and orphans, stewarding the creation entrusted to our care, bringing justice, healing the sick and hurting, and sharing the liberating truth about Jesus Christ. It is sad during this political campaign season to hear only about one thing- the economy and jobs. Apparently a poll must have revealed to the pundits and politicians somewhere that this is all we must care about- not primarily, but exclusively. I have not seen anything about corrective justice, human trafficking, cultural moral decline, victimization of children, international relationships, reduction of government waste and size, fixing social security’s woes, making the country safer, education reform that will turn a downward trend, reducing the threat of war and shortening the duration of existing conflicts, et. al. Not a thing! I can’t find a commercial that gives more than lip-service and sound bites to them.
I have been subjected, like everyone else, to the advertising blitz on social media, newspapers, tv and radio. And, that’s it- the economy and jobs. Don’t get me wrong. I am very sympathetic to the plight of the unemployed and have worked vigilantly with many ministries to reduce joblessness at home and abroad- with measured success. It is a large part of conversation with all church leaders who compassionately serve their congregations and communities. I know that many are suffering deeply due to the downturn in the economy. My point is not at all about the importance of this concern. The problem is the subordination of all other possible concerns to this one. They lead me to two observations.
First, not everything that matters is financial. That should be obvious. Civil society can only be considered such if it is concerned over matters of propriety, justice, safety and morality. Those are not all economically centered matters. The present politicking is indicative of a reductionist view of what is important. Morality no longer matters. Justice and freedom is inexplicably a minor concern though the leaders who forged our country’s political system was consumed with it. It is all a sign that many important matters that were once held dear are now subjugated to the margins, only to be revived if political correctness is at stake, or if certain moral matters are raised that challenge newly endorsed social acceptability. In short, focusing on this one matter- the economy- is indicative of a society that is increasingly unconcerned about other important matters or even sees their connection to societies health and well-being.
Second, it is also indicative of a very individualistic society. Voters need money (and healthcare) to survive. Jobs are necessary to have money. A strong economy is predicated upon jobs, production and spending. Our position in the world is economically contingent. Our ability to aid the hurting is tied to economic strength. So, it is all tied together- from the personal to the collective benefit. But, the political motivation is not the end, but the means. The appeal is to the voter about the voter’s personal interest and not about the larger issues that affect both voters and non-voters. In fact, many of the larger issues require addressing sensitive matters requiring political will and courage (Social Security, healthcare, Medicare, banking reform, international trade, etc.). These are only addressed with cliche and platitude, or pejoratively about the opponents position.
So much is at stake in our culture, in the world and in the interest of future generations. It is disheartening to reduce the scope of concern to appeals to greatest individual need. That is narrow politics at its worst. In reality, the greatest individual need is not a higher paying job, but a better world in which to have a job. Jesus spoke much about money. The Bible is full of talk about money. Sadly, these two conversations (current political speak and Scriptural commands) are miles apart both in content and application.
I am praying that the things that are broken will be fixed. I realize that governments cannot do that. Jesus and his bride do that. However, I would hope that governments would at least acknowledge the need and make an effort in those directions. Please pray with me.