The Bears versus the Raiders: Do I have to pick?

The Bears versus the Raiders: Do I have to pick? September 24, 2016

When our annual blow-out Super Bowl party comes around, there is pressure to root for a team. This is normally easy: the Panthers had a feel-good story.

Who will replace him?
Who will replace him?

Cam Newton and Denver had the old guy going out looking for a win. I am an old guy, so I picked Denver (and this made my two brother-in-laws happy as well).

I cared, but not much.

The year will come, God help us, when the Packers arch-nemesis the Bears will face the team I grew up loathing, the Oakland Raiders. Since the game cannot end in a tie and rooting for the Fall of the West before the end of the game seems over blown, I will feel pressure to pick a team. My godfather lives near Oakland and Al Davis has gone to his reward so that is the case for the Raiders. Chicago is the hometown of our beloved Father Richard and Hope went to Wheaton College.

There is an answer there somewhere and to make the game fun, I would pick a side.

There is a pressure in any great contest to “pick a team” and root. If you sit it out, then you feel left out. This creates a pressure to pick. This pressure can be morally dangerous . . . though (I assume) not in the case of the Super Bowl. Let’s take the election of 1856 when an unstable land grabber ran as a Republican against a former Secretary of State who had serious problems with vice. As the campaign heated up, there was great pressure to pick.

To fail to vote for John Fremont looked like a vote for the pro-slavery Buchanan. To vote for the more competent Buchanan looked like a vote for a man whose moral compass pointed due South. Yet if a not yet grand or old party voter had succumbed to voting for the manifestly temperamentally unsuited Fremont and he had won, then the Civil War would have come four years earlier and been led by a disaster.

We would never have had Mr. Lincoln.

If to avoid Fremont, a liberty minded voter had pulled the lever for Buchanan, then one would have voted for the worst President in American history.

The best choice wasn’t even to vote for the Know Nothing, Millard Fillmore, because he was a Know Nothing. Think about it: the Know Nothing Party.

Yet the pressure to choose was intense. The best choice, of course, was to keep all three out of the White House. Since that was not going to happen, the moral man, the sane man, had not a candidate. He had to sit at home and vote his conscience by not voting. Perhaps if he lived in a state Buchanan was sure to carry, then he could afford to make an abolitionist stand with a Fremont vote, but that was dangerous. He would be saying to his family: an unstable man can get my sacred vote if he agrees with me on one thing.

Better not to vote, than to throw a vote away on Fremont. Wait for Lincoln. He will come.

Of course, a Republican could say: don’t do it! What if we get a Supreme Court decision that declares African-American enslaved people property even in free states? A good man should have said: “Then the guilt will be on the Court that makes this evil decision. God knows.” So when the Supreme Court did pronounce (in Dred Scott) such an evil, the man who did not vote was not responsible. The Court was.

In 1860 when Lincoln was on the ballot, the moral man was vindicated. The 1856 election seemed portentous, because it was, but it was not the last election. We did not have to pick sides in 1856 when all the sides were bad.

Patience is a virtue in a republic.

And so it goes with church fights, marital strife, and many other decisions in our lives. We think we must pick a side, but if all the sides are bad, then do not pick. Stand, even if you stand alone. When asked by Joshua whether he was on the side of Israel or on the side of the enemy, the Captain of the Lord’s Army said: “No.” Sometimes this should be our answer: “No.”

When asked if God was on the side of the North, Lincoln (who knew his Bible) said that he hoped rather to be on the Lord’s side. So it must be for us sometimes, despite all pressure.

Mr Lincoln is coming . . . God helping us.


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