How to be Political with Spiritual Integrity

Being a Christian in today’s society can be tough. There are so many forces trying to gain your allegiance, and so many causes to support. The conservatives want you to defend the lives of the unborn, and the liberals want you to defend the lives of women and the poor. On one side it is unjust to ban certain immigrants from entering our country, and on another side it is unjust to reveal classified information. There are many good causes to support as a Christian, but in our political machine it seems that dividing lines get drawn as to what causes should be supported and which one’s are “agendas” designed by the other side to manipulate you.
It is quite possible that we are reaching a new dark age, not one where information and education is so scarce that ignorance causes us to cling to superstition and authoritarianism, but one where it is so prominent and excessive that intellectual hubris is causing us to cling to tribalism all over again. Fake news is the new superstitionism, and our own echo chambers have become the new tyrannical power. The goal in political discourse is no longer to persuade our opponents to our side, but rather to simply talk from our own platform to ensure our constituents remain with us. If a liberal brings up the right a woman has for her own body a conservative does not engage that issue to understand it, and develop an argument against it. The immediate response is to bring up child murder and the Holocaust. And when a conservative brings up property rights a liberal does not attempt to give credit to economic theory or virtue ethics, but rather dives headlong into wealth inequality and privilege guilt. No one cares anymore about the art of persuasion. Everyone has contented themselves with the claim that the other side is wrong and will not change. The job now is to keep exposing their error so the new recruits will not be bullied or duped into siding with the enemy.
This system will kill your spirit. The spiritual life is grounded on the principle that humanity is worth saving. The “enemy” can become your friend. Your old life can be reborn into a new life. People can change. In Christianity this is called the Gospel. Its theological designation is “redemption”. If your political convictions lead you to thinking that your rivals are unredeemable then you have lost your spiritual integrity. Here are some key points to consider when you engage in politics to help you keep your spiritual integrity:
1.      Avoid Being A Hypocrisy Watchdog. Politics is an immensely complicated procedure that often requires people to shift positions and allegiances in order to accomplish the common good or a higher goal. Often times compromises have to be made so that some form of your ideal world is allowed to exist. The process is slow and mostly haphazard. It would be naïve and foolish to think that because a political opponent is appearing to have changed course on an issue that it means that they are now hypocrites. So much material I see online is devoted to this watchdog behavior of monitoring all our political rivals to ensure that they are keeping in line with things done in the past. Recently the biggest event to have taken place is the firing of the FBI director.
We all know that liberals were upset how Comney revealed possible corruption in the Hillary campaign just days before the election, but it is not hypocritical at all for liberals to be upset that Comney was recently fired, despite conservatives mocking liberal protest otherwise. The basic fact of the matter is that in a political environment our leaders have to put their personal feelings aside and try to deal with the issue at hand. For a liberal to be upset about Comney’s firing shows this correct political process taking place. It is a distraction and an unsympathetic outlash to always be a hyprocsiy watchdog in politics, because the simple truth is that without hypocrisy civilization could not exist. If a liberal sees the importance of investigating Trump about potential treasonous acts then that goal becomes more important then the animosity felt in loosing the election, and that kind of activity should be praised in a political environment, because it is politicians doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing.
Just the same, liberals do this all the time in exposing Trumps old tweets with his new ones. Nothing is gained from this, and only wastes time in what needs to be a political process where changing positions are expected. Being a hypocrisy watchdog only perpetuates the idea that the other side is irredeemable and operates without any sense of consistency, when in fact changing our position is the earmark of how politics is supposed to function.  
Now it is true that a politician, as all people, should live honorable and honest lives. And that the measure of our character has to be weighed in the choices that we make. Lying and manipulations will always be condemnable, like when Bill Clinton lied about Monica Lewinski, but it is hardest to detect these character flaws in politicians, because their job requires that they be hypocrites.
2.      Don’t Shame Debate. Please do yourself a favor and accept that you could be wrong about something. Debate something. Argue for it, and try to persuade others to your cause. Don’t be the one who thinks people “argue too much” on Facebook, because the problem is never the argument, and the problem is never caused because people who disagreed with each other argued over it (yes, I know that fights and violence has happened, but I would maintain that the violence was still not caused by the argument itself, but most likely by some other factor like mental illness or misdirected anger). Too many people share their ideas and then when challenged say that they are not going to debate it. Well, I hate to be a sour pickle about this, but the whole point of having and sharing ideas is to debate them. You could be wrong. I could be wrong. We could both be wrong, and nothing can ever come from this if we do not talk about these issues and engage in debate to try and figure it all out together. Saying that you won’t debate something is like saying that you do not want to participate in the process of change and redemption. Other people are worth the effort and personal exhaustion that can go into debate and persuasion. And yes it is exhausting, but as a Christian that should be the last excuse to enter our minds when it comes to holding unto our spiritual integrity.
3.      Don’t Weaponize Sensitivity. A lot of people claim to be offended by something, and some are offended that others are offended, and so on. It is perhaps one of the most frustrating aspects of political discourse that rational discussion must now be regulated by something called political correctness, or as it is often abbreviated “PC”. And while I would personally love to be done with all the over-sensitivity when it comes to trying to have a discussion about important matters it has to be recognized that there really is a need to be aware of how other people will emotionally react to ideas and concepts. There really is a need to be sensitive, it is not all characterized by a spoiled temper tantrum.
I remember when Trump was early in his campaign how many people suddenly became aware of how refreshing it was to have a man who spoke his mind, and of course this meant that Trump was not afraid of offending anyone. In fact, some have theorized that this is one of the biggest reasons Trump became such an icon, and it has always saddened me to think that this could be true, because it is really such a duplicitous motive for someone to rise to power.
As a parent I have seen my kids try to play every angle when they detect an opportunity to gain some sort of advantage that one of their siblings does not have. If one kid gets special treatment during mealtime because of an upset belly, lo and behold, every meal will suddenly become a litany of every disease and ailment that could possible exist inside the stomach of a growing child. But it even goes further than that, because now each child will become the stomach monitor of every other child to ensure that their correct assessment of their stomach problems gets the credit they deserve. It now becomes necessary to expose all the obvious fake claims made by the other kids. The point being that when you raise children it becomes very clear how sensitivity can all too quickly turn to selfishness.
The reality then is that if Trump rose to power because people admired a man who could speak the truth without being afraid of offending anyone then it is obviously not because they are sick and tired of sensitivity obsession, but rather because our over-sensitive culture has simply not given the benefits to one people group over another, and now both sides of the political spectrum are playing on equal terms. The PC revolt never in fact happened. If the populist theory of Trump is true then it is not a sign of PC’s end, but rather the opposite. It shows the rise of a group of people now declaring their terms for being sensitive to their needs. We haven’t entered an era of being able to “speak our mind” like Trump. We’ve entered an era of doubling down of sensitivity.
And so naturally the sensitivity police now have to come out in droves, just like little children arguing over food at a diner table, because each side sees the potential threat every sensitivity-claim the other one is making and has to ensure that their manipulation is getting exposed, and that their genuine sensitivity is getting recognized.
But the problem with this is that in order to gain the power that you need in the political spectrum you now have to regard all sensitivity claims as some form of selfishness, when in fact political correctness was never about one side being able to gain power over another side. The brutal truth is that looking for someone who can “speak their mind” is simply a cover for our own agenda to gain power through the same kind of sensitivity manipulation that has been so successful for the other side. And we end up reducing an immensely important part of our human experience, and our spiritual connection with other people. The fact that we are sensitive people and the fact that we ought to have a basic human decency directed toward each other in order to maintain a civil environment. The sad state of affairs is that people have forgotten that the reason we need political correctness is exactly because civics is more important than politics. Not all sensitivities are manifestations of selfishness, and a person who doesn’t care about offending others isn’t someone who can put an end to offense. He is simply one who will end up multiplying it.
Engaging in sensitivity arguments with your opponents only validates the political machine which sees the voting public as cogs in this machine to be used and manipulated. People deserve better than this, and as a Christian we should maintain our spiritual integrity that as a redeemed people we do not have to be slaves to anyone or any human institution. Being sensitive to our opponents (even sensitive enough to protect them from the harm of over-sensitivity) is a virtue of redemption, because it validates the basic humanity that exists in all of us and testifies to the Gospel truth that anyone can be saved.


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