I keep remembering how, in the time of the Judges, the Israelites longed–yea lusted–for a king. They had God as their king–communicating through the judges and prophets. But no. They wanted a real King! They wanted a ruler. Something there is in people who want a savior. They want a Messiah. They want a Leader. They want an almighty king.
What they really want is someone to solve their problems. They want a sugar Daddy. They’re big babies who want to play all day and let somebody else take care of them. They don’t want to clean their room.
There’s even more to it than this. Not only do people want their president, their prime minister or their prince to solve all their problems and provide for all their needs, but deep down they want to have someone on to which they can project not just their hopes and dreams, but also their fears and even worse–their hatred and loathing. They not only want a big good guy. They want a big bad guy too. They need an enemy.
They want the big fairy tale with a hero and a villain. Immature people do this all the time. They don’t want to face their own problems. They don’t want to take responsibility for themselves. They want someone who will solve their problems for them and someone on whom they can blame their problems.
This is why I remain, way down deep, very cynical about politics. I see how the politicians play on these hopes and dreams–these doubts and fears. I see how they demonize the other candidate and get the voters to project their worst hatreds onto them. I see how they elevate their rhetoric, simplify complex situations and push all the dream buttons to make people think that everything is going to be all right if only they should get elected.
What they are selling is a false reality and, like all false realities, the bubble will burst. The buyer will be disappointed and the dreams will lie shattered. Better not to put your trust in princes. Be realistic. Look at what you have to do to attain power. Why should you trust anyone who actually wants to be President and would do what it takes to be president?
Standing the whole thing on its head makes me come back to the way the world views religious people. The atheists like to say that religious people are dreamy, unrealistic people who have a sweet hope for a pie in the sky future–that we place all our dreams and hopes in the belief in a Colonel Sanders God–a big Grandaddy in the sky who will sit us down on the porch with a bucket of fried chicken to sing Stephen Foster songs and tell Uncle Remus stories for all eternity. They say we are the dreamers and the unrealistic ones, and to be fair, there are plenty of religious people who respond to their religious leaders in the same twisted way they respond to politicians—but that’s the stuff for another post.
Finally, the true believer doesn’t project his hopes and dreams and fears and doubts on to another person. He takes responsibility for himself. He sees himself as he is and the world as it really is.
This is the ultimate irony–that it is the believer in the other world who is most realistic about this world. It is the one who believes in heaven who can be most squinty eyed and sharp about this earth. It is because he trusts in the Prince of Peace that he does not trust the princes of this world, and it is because he accepts the reality of immortality that he can deal with the reality of being mortal, and it’s because he has a bright eye to eternity that he can cast a dim eye on elections.
Sign up here for my free, weekly newsletter FaithWorks! – advice on the practical practice of the Catholic faith.
This week is my annual Stick ‘Em Up Campaign. If you like this blog please donate here.