Politics Destroys the Soul -UPDATE

I’ve been suspecting it for a while, but I think Dorothy Day’s sentiment sort of makes it very plain.

“I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least.” — Dorothy Day

I want to love God with all my heart and all my being.

But I can’t stand anyone in politics, right now. And I realize, today — for the millionth time — that it’s not a healthy thing for me, spiritually; my ability to slip into a broad mood of disliking says something about my capacity for loving God, and also how easily I fool myself.

I can’t stand the politicians because of the posturing, the lying, the arrogance, the spinning, the whole…just the whole thing. I can’t stand them, anymore, or their pals in the press. But I must learn to love the person even though I dislike the policies, the politics, and that’s only going to happen through prayer and the grace of God, because clearly my heart’s a bit shriveled.

It’s the only way — I must pray for the good of all of these politicians I don’t like; pray for their salvation, just as I must pray each day for my own.

I do that. But I guess, not enough!

So, I think this noonhour is a good time to take out the rosary, to pray — for the good of these folks I can’t bring myself to love or to trust — and to pray that my own heart can grow in love and understanding.

And, for any growth or understanding that comes to stay, and last…

UPDATE: A little help and perspective from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King:

“. . .we begin to love our enemies and love those persons that hate us whether in collective life or individual life by looking at ourselves.

A second thing that an individual must do in seeking to love his enemy is to discover the element of good in his enemy, and every time you begin to hate that person and think of hating that person, realize that there is some good there and look at those good points which will over-balance the bad points.

I’ve said to you on many occasions that each of us is something of a schizophrenic personality. We’re split up and divided against ourselves. And there is something of a civil war going on within all of our lives. There is a recalcitrant South of our soul revolting against the North of our soul. And there is this continual struggle within the very structure of every individual life. There is something within all of us that causes us to cry out with Ovid, the Latin poet, “I see and approve the better things of life, but the evil things I do.”

There is something within all of us that causes us to cry out with Plato that the human personality is like a charioteer with two headstrong horses, each wanting to go in different directions. There is something within each of us that causes us to cry out with Goethe, “There is enough stuff in me to make both a gentleman and a rogue.” There is something within each of us that causes us to cry out with Apostle Paul, “I see and approve the better things of life, but the evil things I do.”

So somehow the “isness” of our present nature is out of harmony with the eternal “oughtness” that forever confronts us. And this simply means this: That within the best of us, there is some evil, and within the worst of us, there is some good. When we come to see this, we take a different attitude toward individuals. The person who hates you most has some good in him; even the nation that hates you most has some good in it; even the race that hates you most has some good in it.

And when you come to the point that you look in the face of every man and see deep down within him what religion calls “the image of God,” you begin to love him in spite of. No matter what he does, you see God’s image there. There is an element of goodness that he can never sluff off. Discover the element of good in your enemy. And as you seek to hate him, find the center of goodness and place your attention there and you will take a new attitude.”

To “see Christ in everyone you meet” is something that St. Benedict charges us to do. That’s a great gift, a very great grace. And it’s one I must ask for. I may be better at it than I was ten years ago, but I’m still not good enough, and never will be, by my own efforts.

UPDATE II: More to ponder from Julie Davis who emailed me with this one:

That your enemies have been created is God’s doing; that they hate you and wish to ruin you is their own doing. What should you say about them in your own mind? “Lord be merciful to them, forgive them their sins, put the fear of God in them, change them!” You are loving in them not what they are, but what you would have them to become. –St. Augustine

Oh, Justice and Mercy, will I ever get you guys lined up and balanced?

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About Elizabeth Scalia