We are in the final stages of the political campaigns. We made it through the conventions, and now we prepare for the debates. Frankly, I am exhausted with it all. Like most Americans, I already know who I am voting for in this election. I already know what vision of the country I wish to be a part of manifesting. So, we can stop with the endless ads, pundits and 24 hour news cycles. Enough already.
But I am intrigued by the sharp differences in the vision that each candidate is putting forth. It feels like there is a great deal at stake – as if we have come to the place where the “me economy” stands in stark contrast with the “we economy.” It is the same choice our churches face – can we save ourselves by serving ourselves or do we find new life in the service of others? Which shall we choose?
Jesus was clear that while we will always have the disenfranchised among us, that is never an excuse to create policies that victimize them. When it comes to social policies that affect us all, we must speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. The truth is that most of us will never know what it is like to be poor – truly poor – or to be utterly powerless in a nation with such great power.
Imagine for a moment the experience of the undocumented immigrants who are building this country’s most beautiful buildings, mowing and tending our gardens, and cooking our food while living in fear that they will be pulled over while driving to work one day and deported to a country they don’t know. What will happen to their children? Can you imagine the fear? The vulnerability? The powerlessness?
The disenfranchised were the people about whom Jesus cared the most. Jesus lived with them, listening, caring, reaching out, touching and healing them. He didn’t always succeed – but he always tried. Do you remember the prayer he taught us? “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Heaven on earth begins with us. We awaken to the vulnerabilities of our own lives when we live in a place of compassion for the most vulnerable among us. That is when God finally has enough room to transform us. The only way I know to transform the world is to start with ourselves.
Legend has it that one evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all. One is life-taking. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is life-giving. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?” The old Cherokee replied, “The one you feed.”
What are you feeding in your life today?