Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Would Jesus Vote?

Wow, I received an all time record of responses to that last blog. 23 responses. 24 if you count the Holy Spirit (who didn’t commit to print)

2 agreed with me (two’s company - three’s a crowd - no one wants to lead though)
2 suggested I officially spoil my ballot (show up, not mark an X, hand it in)
6 suggested a vote for the Greens (it’d be like not voting but would give them funds)
8 empathized but said they would still vote (out of a sense of duty)
12 suggested I should do the right thing (for various reasons involving the struggle for democracy in history and the wide world)
3 said DO THE RIGHT THING YOU JERK (all people who could remember WWII)

And the Holy Spirit noted that while I was pointing my finger at the rich, three fingers were pointing back at my own greed, insecurity, and selfishness

(Note: These statistics could vary 2 out of 3 times depending on the vagaries of my memory, how I interpret your comments, and my mood at the time.)

I really appreciate the input and am tempted to be swayed by the majority – except – I’m still with Jesus on the road to Jerusalem. What did the popularity polls tell Jesus about his chances of success?

Only a few comments spoke to the question of “What would Jesus do?”. One was a friend defending the generosity of the rich. Another was a woman who’s been courageously working away in a corner of the federal bureaucracy trying to bring a little light into the dark morass that is our criminal justice system. (Why are our prisons full of poor and/or mentally handicapped people when corporate thieves receive tax breaks?) 

She sent me an essay that didn’t answer “What would Jesus say?” but came close with “What would Mary Jo Leddy say”.
Alison Morgan May diagnoses for me the ailment I’m suffering from. She finds in Leddy’s 2002 book “Radical Gratitude” an analysis of our culture of “dissatisfaction”. We have been fed the lies of progress for three generations now. The electronic media blanket we live under assures us that sacrifice, duty, and the pursuit of happiness will provide an ever better life/world/peace.  

“We live in a culture of money. The average American watches 26 hours’ TV a week, which is 13 years in a life time, and 3 years of solid advertising. Through TV and other adverts we are bombarded by 16,000 brand name logos every day. Even those who shun TV have to live in a world shaped by people who have had their consciousness altered by advertising.

The result – our culture is constituted through craving. Without consumption there would be no production and no profit; people have to keep wanting more. The problem isn’t in the shopping – it arises when we think we are buying identity, meaning, purpose. These things have to be discovered, they can’t be purchased.

The craving spills over from material possessions to a craving for better experiences, more fulfilling relationships, more information, self-knowledge, even more spirituality – there’s a thriving business in selling spiritual things.”
Alison Morgan May

It’s not so much that I don’t believe in the politicians. I have lost faith in my culture. I have lost faith in my neighbour’s ability to choose a political path that is not merely about maintaining the sacred status quo. God forbid that my right to go to the Mall and purchase a better and better life might be questioned.

Jesus was up against a Roman propaganda machine that offered Peace, Justice, and the gifts of God. His invitation to journey out of that culture and create circles of Radical Gratitude was about saying “NO” to the lie of a better, safer, happier life offered at the cost of “acceptable losses” - won by the sword and secured by the state.

By not voting I am saying “these losses not acceptable”.
There is no acceptable level of radiation poisoning.
There is no acceptable level of homelessness or child poverty.
There is no acceptable level of military aggression.

No Canadian political party is saying these things.

And so I ask “Would Jesus Vote?” and if so – for who?

“Radical gratitude begins when we stop taking life for granted; it arises in astonishment at the miracle of creation, in the recognition of what we have rather than what we don’t have.

The meaning of life is that we are created for God; especially important in a culture which has lost a common sense of what it is for. In the absence of an overarching common vision, the goal of getting more has filled this social vacuum.”
In the experience of radical gratitude we know the origin and purpose of our lives.
Alison Morgan May

It’s not that I don’t appreciate my right to vote. It’s not that I am not grateful for the sacrifices made to win me that right. It is because I truly value my vote – that I choose not to spend it.

I won’t say YES to a political party willing to do deals with the devil to get the power to pursue truth and justice. My YES is reserved for the small ones who refuse violence, greed, and lies in the vision of an ever extending family at the Thanksgiving Table.   

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