So, It’s November 2 and in 2 days, we’ll be electing a new president.
I actually subscribe to an Evangelical “news” service called “One News Now”. I suppose that I’m there just to see where the attitudes that are being promoted on right-wing radio come from, and why there is such anger, hatred, intolerance and vitriol seemingly spewing from anything that resembles an outlet today.
So, this one article that I read on Thursday was titled : Why 'born-again' Christians are backing Obama. The tone of the article seems to be that no “real Christian” would vote for Barack Obama, at least not if they are true to their faith. Some of the comments about the article are:
"He may say that he is a Christian, but I refuse to support anyone who believes that its ok to kill unborn children. Abortion is from satan, who is a thief and a killer. Jesus cane so that you may have life, and have it more abundantly. Some people may say that its a more complex issue, but studies have shown the psychological affect it has on a women when she has an abortion.
PLEASE! Lets just stop calling non-Biblical people Christians. It is a slap in the face for the few of us, a spit in the face to our Christ, Jesus and an insult to God, The Creator, Our Father in Heaven. They are what they are because they worship the inventions and follow the intentions of man rather than the Very (literal) Word of God. We expect this kind to vote for baby killers, liars cheats and thiefs. BUT PLEASE STOP CALLING THE MULTITUDE THAT FOLLOW THE ANTI-CHRIST, CHRISTIANS!"
"Anyone who votes for Obama, a man who advocates the killing of babies, is not a Christian. "And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'" Matthew 7:23"
So, some of these people have come to believe some incredible things. They believe that pro-choice means that a person wishes to kill babies. Many believe that multiculturalism is a bad thing, that all of Islam hates America, forgetting that Muslim American soldiers have fought and died beside their Christian counterparts in Iraq. I’ve heard conservatives continue to suggest that Barack Obama is actually a Muslim, as if there is anything wrong with that. One yard in a small town in Maine has a large poster suggesting that Obama is a Muslim and that McCain is a patriot.
More recently, Elizabeth Dole has aired an advertisement that suggests that Kay Hagan is godless … as if being an atheist is bad … because Godless Americans, a political action committee apparently gave Kay Hagan some money for the campaign. Dole’s ad asks what Kay offered in return, and the ad concludes with a voice saying “There is no god”. If you want, you can see that ad at paganfm.com, on the home page, near the bottom.
So, apparently, in the conservative mind, one never gives another money without expecting something in return. I do have to wonder what the Biblical implications are there. Does that mean that every conservative candidate that receives money from a PAC or organization is in that organization’s pocket?
The anger and resentment and negativity and misrepresentation and outright lies that I see in this campaign season, and mostly from Christian Conservatives is stunning. I’ve never seen it this bad. Perhaps it’s because they are scrambling, because they truly fear that they will lose. What’s frightening though is what it will do to the country. Christian conservatives are painting everyone who does not believe as they do as satanic and evil, the enemy. It seems that they are forgetting that they are very much like the Islamic conservatives that they are battling against, and concocted an excuse to fight a war with in Iraq.
I get really tired of the fighting and backstabbing that so seems to have taken over politics. We’re told pretty much flat-out that if we don’t agree with a specific viewpoint, that we’re anti-American and evil. We’ve become the sort of people that our soldiers are trained to kill. Is that hyperbole? Not if you listen to some daytime talk-show hosts.
Please don’t get me wrong … I’m certainly not Christian-bashing. My own kids are Christians, and I’m happy for them … they have something they believe in, and that’s as I think it should be. What I don’t like is the sort of radical ANYTHING that says “If you don’t believe as we do, you’re inherently evil”. That’s the sort of thought and behavior that gets people tortured or killed. It causes us to dehumanize others. It’s why Matthew Sheppard was killed. It’s why Jesus was killed. It’s why thousands of presumed witches, millions of Jews, Blacks, gays, Native Americans and others were killed.
It’s an attitude that is a poison among so many that can’t see that there is a possibility of more than one correct answer to many questions. It’s an attitude that says “If I’m right, you must be wrong”, and which, fed by the poison of bigotry, results in the idea that “If you don’t believe the same things that I do, then you are evil”. We all experience it, especially here in the United States. When the World Trade Center was destroyed, some told us that it was a radical Islamic group that was responsible. But many have said, and many more have come to believe that it isn’t radical Islam, but Islam as a whole.
How much better off would we have been if instead of dropping the word “radical”, we had dropped the word “Islam”, and recognized that the problem isn’t Islam or Christianity, but radicalism itself that is polarizing and destroying our world?
Radicalism is a poison. Radicalism permits anything for is own purpose, including the destruction of others and the destruction of the planet. It presumes that it is correct, and erases and destroys anything to the contrary.
Again, I don’t think that Christianity is bad, nor conservatism. What is utterly dangerous though is a radicalism that has no room for other views.
It’s curious that many of these ultra-right view as dangerous any sort of compassion for those who are different. Multi-culturalism, the acceptance of differences is seen as dangerous or radical. Those who are radical can’t see their own views as extreme. And it’s in that fertile environment of extremism, that the seeds of hatred and intolerance are sewn. What becomes dangerous in the eyes of extremism? Any effort to act globally, the United Nations, acceptance of differences such as homosexuality or transgenderism, alternative religions, alternative healing practices … pretty much anything that goes against the “accepted norms” that which is “Biblical” or “Orthodox:”.
Sadly enough, radicalism and orthodoxy are starting to infiltrate paganism as well. There are those who will refuse to associate others because they believe them to be wrong or “bad”. While I agree that we need to have definitions, and to know what it is that we believe, and not to call “black” “white”, calling others ignorant or bad, simply because we disagree with them will just get us into what it was that we fought so hard to get out of.
Obviously it’s tough to cleanse our minds of the routines that we’ve become so entrenched in, but it’s vital to do so if we want to create something that will keep us out of the traps from which we’ve freed ourselves. Most of us have come to whatever sort of paganism it is that we’re in, simply because we see that what passes as a spirituality is so often only a political game and an excuse for bigotry. It’s not going to serve us at all if we bring that same baggage to this new path.
What distinguishes paganism from other paths, to me, is its universality. It accepts that each path is right for the one who travels it, so long as that path doesn’t trample the path of others. When we start playing the games of the Orthodox Radicals, from any path, we lose that, and with it, we lose what it was that set us free.
So, those of us who live in the United States will vote for people to fill many offices on Tuesday. And really, as long as you vote, and as long as you vote your conscience, I respect that. I might not agree, but I’ll respect the fact that you are willing to stand up for what you believe. I’ll not call you a racist or a bigot or a radical or a socialist or a Marxist, because in the end, what matters is that you made a choice, and made the effort that cast a ballot. That’s what makes our country work. On the other hand, I will ask you to respect the fact that whoever gets elected to office, that person is the choice of the people of this country. No matter who gets in office this time, there will be dramatic changes. We need to pray for those in office; to keep them safe, to make wise decisions. Already, both Barack Obama and Sarah Palin have been strung up in effigy. There are hate-filled people on both sides of that fence, and Barack and Sarah need our compassion, whatever we think of either of them.
No matter who gets into office this time, there are going to be hurt and angry people all over. This race has been so contentious that our country is now wounded and divided. It needs healing. Many of us who are pagans identify as healers … here’s a place to start working. If the candidate that you wanted is elected, it’s not a time to gloat, but to reach out. I’ve quoted Mahatma Gandhi before, but his words are just as important now, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world”.
If our candidate wins, and we take on an air of superiority, what are we saying about our choice? Won’t an attitude of compassion go so much further? Won’t an environment of cooperation serve everyone better? If we want to put an end to the partisan trash-talk and vitriolic poison, doesn’t it make sense to start right were we live?
There are some people that I had great respect for prior to this campaign, and honestly, they’ve climbed right down off the ladder that I saw them on. Still, I can regain respect for them, and I need to recognize that they are only people, and capable of being sucked into what is typically human behavior. Making some bad decisions does not eradicate a person’s ability to make good ones, and anyone can change.
So, come Tuesday, get out and vote. And on Wednesday, seek peace, and be the change you wish to see in the world.
© 2008, Deirdre A. Hebert