I've reached the point where I almost want to relent. To just give up and say, "fine, you win."
I know I'm not alone in this attitude. I also know that everyone who shares this attitude feels alone anyway.
I have a set of values. Opinions on issues. And I like to think that these values and opinions are well-thought-out and morally justified.
I like to think that.
And in the past few months, I've been confronted by arguments and assertions that challenge some of my longer-held beliefs. Some arguments have had no merit. Some have. And like others open to growth and change, I've tried to consider all sides of the argument fairly, and make up my mind.
One of the biggest problems I face is a problem common to the modern Church: dual-citizenship. My fellow bloggers Myles and Amanda are absolutely right--you have to be a member of the Body first, and an American second. Everything I've read in the Bible supports this. Our first allegiance is to a kingdom that is not of this world.
And it's hard to embrace this. It's hard to accept it. It's hard to even consider that my desire to ensure that wicked men receive their "just desserts" is really a part of the baser nature, wrapped in pious robes. It's hard to consider that my voice in the public square should be lifted to defend the weak and afflicted, not necessarily an institution that needs no defense. It's hard to consider that I can only justify casting my stones if I am without sin.
But I'm trying to rectify my thinking and my habits to the mind of Christ. I'm trying to change my perception of others, of myself, of my role in the Body and in the world. It's difficult, but I'm working on it.
And on top of all this, it's an election year. God spare us from sermonizing of and about political figures. I'm tired of it. I'm tired of practically everything I read being against one side and for the other. I'm tired of everything else I'm reading being blindly partisan. More than this, I'm tired of caring so much.
And I'm on the verge of saying to my political rivals, "Fine. You win. I give. Your guy is a godsend, and mine is the Devil. Fine. Now can we please talk about something REAL?"
But I won't say that, because I don't believe it. You want to know what I believe? Here it is plain:
This year, we must choose between two men who each have bad ideas about aspects of public policy. Their bad ideas are in different areas and on different topics. Whatever idea or area is your passion, so goes your vote. I'm not going to vote for John Kerry. I see him as a vacillator and an appeaser. Whatever good things he may do for domestic policy (and on that front, I still have my doubts), the government of this country has one over-arching responsibility: to defend the Republic. And I do not believe John Kerry will.
On the other side is GWB. While I have lingering doubts about his political backbone on certain issues, I will say that he has faced the greatest onslaught of political, foreign, and media animosity against any public figure I can remember, and has continued to make decisions ostensibly based on what he believes is best. I don't argue that his decisions are always right; some of them are flat out wrong (with a "w", hardy har har). But good or ill, I trust that Bush will not be swayed by the jeers of a crowd, by the fears of a poll, or by the threats of foreign leaders who have never and will never have the interest of this country at heart.
For some, the passion and driving force is welfare, or jobs, or charity. Some believe that most important issue in the election is the deficit, the economy, or civil liberties. I think these are all important issues, and if one issue is more important to you than others, then do as you will. As for me, I've spoken my mind now, I say thankya. The job of defending the powerless should have been taken up by the church long ago, and I will support those within the church who want to reclaim that responsibility. But the state's real purpose, in my view, is to protect the people. And I'm not naive enough to believe that "the only thing we have to fear is four more years..."
There are greater monsters to face. There is still a bear in the forest. And I'd almost prefer a leader who rattles sabres to one who might one day hand them over in surrender.
So there you go. Issues spiritual and social. Personal confession and political opinion.
Happy friggin Thursday.