If you are not ___________ (fill in the blank) you are not paying attention.
All that stuff out there is all those things.
At least to me.
And, all that stuff out there matters.
And makes a difference.
And demands our attention even if and when we are all of the above.
But today, I also offer this reminder.
Somewhere someone provided food for someone who was hungry.
Somewhere someone went the extra mile to help a stranger.
Somewhere someone called on someone who was sick.
Somewhere someone spent the day helping to make a home safer.
Somewhere someone stopped what they were doing to listen.
Somewhere someone looked another person in the eye.
Somewhere someone said Thank you and meant it.
Somewhere someone promised to love another.
Somewhere someone rocked a baby who was crying.
Somewhere someone read a book to a child.
Somewhere someone took a step towards their dream.
Somewhere someone got back up off the ground.
Somewhere someone spoke up for what is right.
Somewhere someone stood up for what is right.
Somewhere someone broke their silence.
Somewhere someone overcame their fear.
Maybe it was you.
And that matters.
And makes a difference.
And world of difference.
I am doing my best to keep my balance.
I am doing my best to keep in front of me the values which have given shape to my life.
Treating others…the other…the way I would like to be treated.
Values which I think build stronger relationships and better communities and a better tomorrow.
And, I am doing my best to create communities in which those values have a place.
But, the world around me is crazy.
And, I am afraid about to get crazier.
The politics and lies and silence and excuses of Washington are spilling out onto your street and my street and Main Street, and onto our dining room tables. Neighborhoods are feeling the strain. Families are feeling the strain. The fault lines under our feet are deep and getting deeper.
I don’t have any easy answers.
I don’t have any hard answers either.
I worry about our tomorrow.
Because the day is going to come, whether sooner or later, when all that we have broken is going to have to be put back together. And, I wonder…
Am I going to be ready for that task?
And, are we going to remember how?
Today, I am trying to keep my balance.
And to do my best to hold onto those values which have given shape to my life.
I value honesty.
I hear lies.
I value integrity.
I get duplicity.
I long for leadership.
I see win at all costs.
I want to hear an honest exchange of ideas.
I get grandstanding.
I want our leaders to inspire us and to bring out the best in us.
I get name calling and divisiveness and vilification.
I want us to live up to our best and bravest ideals.
I see only politics at its worst.
All this may be “good” politics.
But, it tears apart more than it pulls together.
I don’t know what it will take to undo the harm which has been done.
I am pretty sure I know the reason why so many Republican members of Congress and so many evangelical Christians are putting up with President Trump. And, for some, not just putting up with him, but twisting themselves in knots to explain their support of him. The reason is they are getting what they most want. Conservative judges and justices who will shape the judiciary and with that the framework for our lives for a generation. To achieve that goal they are silent in the face obvious lies and the public shaming of others and turn a blind eye to abuse and infidelity and an expectation of a basic morality which, if were another person, would elicit their outrage and public condemnation. And because they can, in order to get what they want, they change the rules and change their story and trample on accepted norms and practices.
After all, they tell themselves and whisper to each other, the ends justify the means.
But there is a cost.
The politicization of our courts.
The growing distrust of our elected officials and our form of government.
Seeing the hypocrisy, people turning their backs on religious traditions and institutions.
A deepening divide in our country and in our neighborhoods.
Others have probably said it, but I first came upon it in college when I was studying the independence movement in India lead by the lawyer, Mohandas Gandhi. He rejected the notion of the ends justifying the means. Instead, he said, the tactics you use to achieve your goals are as crucial as the goals themselves. If you believe your goals are honorable how you achieve your goals must also be honorable. If you believe your goals holy the means you use to achieve your goals must also be holy. If they are not, the goal you desire will be tarnished.
They may very well get what they want, but the damage has already been done.
To their reputations.
To their integrity.
To our communities.
To our country.
What if every time the President said something that was clearly not true, the news channels cut to a different political leader responsibly discussing an issue.
What if every time those who speak for the President dismiss legitimate questions or blame someone else we all turn the station or the page or just walk away.
What if we just quit feeding the frenzy or participating in the craziness?
The stakes are high.
And, I don’t know what the balance is.
But is it news when the President makes fun of people or calls other people names or intentionally says what is not true or has all this become more a soap opera?
Years ago, I had the privilege of serving as President of our local Board of Education. There were three or four people who at each meeting got up to “air their criticisms and critiques of the decisions we were making.” They often did so in a derogatory fashion which included calling us and school administrators names. After a while I told them they were free to express whatever opinions they would like, but if and when they began to use language which we would not allow students to use I would cut off the microphone and and the video and stop the meeting. They didn’t believe me until I did it. After several meetings, they got the message.
Evangelical voters in Alabama have to choose either faith or politics. In their decision about whether or not to vote for Roy Moore they can’t have it both ways. I say this because, more often than not, the Christian faith and the witness of the Gospels stands on the side of the of the forgotten and the ignored and the disenfranchised and the abused. Jesus’ focus on what he named as the Kingdom of God and his repeated challenges to the misuse and abuse use of both religious and political power stands as a testimony to that fact.
I believe the women.
And, the managers of the mall.
And, just like all the Roman Catholic priests and all the Protestant ministers who, for too long, were transferred from one parish to the next when allegations were made and who now are being held accountable, Roy Moore, as well as all the others who have harassed or abused women, also need to be held accountable for what they did. As I have said publicly on several occasions, if I had done what Roy Moore has been accused of doing I would not only lose my job, but I would be stripped of my ability and credentials to be a pastor. His actions are not only an abuse of the girls and women. They are also an abuse of power.
But if they chose politics, which is their prerogative, leave faith out of it.
Leave God out of it.
Leave the Bible out of it.
Be honest enough to say you are choosing politics over faith.