I feel sad.

One year after the inauguration I feel sad that Obama now finds himself in such a pickle. You don't have to be a Fox TV political analyst to know that when a Kennedy seat goes Republican within months of a Kennedy death, something seismic is happening. Obama is in big trouble.

I am not close enough to the action to know whether he really is making monumental stuff-ups or not. And I am not an American citizen so I never actually have to stand in the ballot box and make a decision on which way to vote. I can live in a kinda demilitarized zone between the two warring factions! Moreover I have American family and friends who stand on both sides of the great political divide and will vote accordingly.
[So this post could indeed be monumentally foolish!].

Still I feel sad.

I feel sad that things are not going well for Obama. Even if I had chosen not to vote for him I'd have wished him better than this in his first year.

I feel sad that America, the wealthiest nation on earth, can not find a way to provide meaningful health care for all its citizens. From this distance it seems that the wealthy and the special interest groups are just being obstructive in order to protect their own wealth and special interests.

I feel sad that so many Christians in America consider that their faith compels them to occupy one side of the political divide and not the other. Christians identifying wholesale with a political party makes me so nervous. From this distance people easily think that all Christians in America vote Republican! This is a worry. Take ethics as an example. Since when was personal ethics more important than social ethics? Gee whiz - some people desperately need to read Amos again! One night in Bangkok, jet-lagged and sleep-deprived, I listened to Obama speak at the Notre Dame graduation and address abortion. I didn't agree with him, but I thought he did a reasonable job of trying to find a way forward. But here is what irritates me. Since when was abortion a bigger ethical issue than the deaths of children caused by global poverty due to an improper distribution of the world's wealth? There are babies on both sides of the birth event - in the USA and abroad - that need to be protected with equal zeal.

I feel sad that a person in our church can pass onto me a youtube clip, inspired by Christians, which makes the claim that Obama is a Muslim. I am not even going to dignify the clip with linking it here. What saddened me most is that it is based on out-of-context pieces of Obama's speech in Egypt. And I thought that speech was one of the highlights of the year, I really did! I had my family stay up to watch it. I shed tears during it. It was a model on how to build cross-cultural bridges in a multi-faith world filled with tension and strife. From this distance I could see America becoming the respected leader in the world once again. Mmmmmm...

I feel sad that so many Americans care so little about how popular Obama is overseas. Doesn't that say something? Why are they not prepared to hear this? From this distance I thought that this would bring enormous encouragement to globally-minded world-christians in America. Clearly this is not the case. I don't get it.

I feel sad, as I always do for politicians, when they get saddled with the problems of a previous administration. It seems a necessary burden that comes with political leadership. But from this distance watching Fox TV, you would never get the idea that the financial recession had anything to do with a greedy era of over-consumption marked by lax banking regulations introduced by a previous administration, would you?

Yes, I do feel sad.
Maybe I shouldn't be.
Maybe I have it all wrong.

What I do know is that God, the Lord of Lords, is the ruler of nations and in him I place my hope and for him I give my life in service, hoping to make a difference.

nice chatting



Ali said…
Well, I thought I was going to have difficulty figuring out whether you supported the Democrats or the Republicans, but it turned out to be quite simple :). Or maybe you just support Obama.

This oft repeated comment that abortion is not an ethical issue of unequalled importance has lots of merit - other ethical issues need the zeal of pro-lifers - but at the same time the comment always comes across to me as taking away from the importance of abortion as an ethical issue. This is so especially when it comes to politics, because it seems to say, "We can vote for an aggressively pro-choice canditate because other ethical issues he's kosher".

Wouldn't it be better to not give up ground on the abortion front and fight for the other issues as well? Or do you look at the ethical issues and give the prospective canditates a percentage rating on their overall ethical standing?
Paul said…
Ali - your last paragraph is what I tried to suggest in my last sentence in the paragraph mentioning abortion. But do you ever see it happening?

I thought the primary role of governance is to ensure justice for all - and not primarily about handling the economy in a way that lifts the standard of living (for some, inevitably). And so ethics is crucial. But the mystery to me is why the personal:social divide so often falls in right:left, republican:democrat ways ... when very deep within me (and every Christian - surely?! - what Bible are they reading???) there is a desire to be active with ethical issues across that divide.

It makes the voting process so difficult for me. Here in NZ I don't think I have ever voted Labour and I know I haven't always voted National. It is a big dilemma for me.

But then my hope for society lies not with the polical process BUT with local churches - mostly small to medium, rather than large to mega - becoming all they are designed to be in their communities, with people gathering for worship and ministry and scattering for work and mission - wrestling on a daily basis with what it means to be salt (involved) and light (distinctive) in their daily callings from God.
Paul Long said…
"But here is what irritates me. Since when was abortion a bigger ethical issue than the deaths of children caused by global poverty due to an improper distribution of the world's wealth?"

As a very casual observer of US politics and the conservative US "evangelical church", abortion is one of the ultra sensitive issues. It is almost as if you are not a true Christian if you do not emphasize you are against abortion.

A friend living and working in the US told me that for many of her Christian friends, they were against many Bush Republican policies (like the war policies etc) and supported Democrat policies but still felt they needed to vote Republican!

Popular Posts