Sunday, April 12, 2020

The Weary Political Manifesto

This last pay period I worked 12.5 hours of overtime. It was something else. The degree of sheer exhaustion I can't even begin to quantify, especially when you combine that scenario with 1) working from home 2) no gym access 3) raising a 3 year old. Sure, the second one doesn't sound like a big deal, but it's the release valve of my life for all the pent-up stress and energy stored up in my body.

Of course there's a silver-lining: the cost of daycare went down quite a bit. The emergency fund will get a much needed boost.

There's a lot of media going around these days, mostly bad. It's just another thing to look at. Just another screen. A call with a friend yesterday though was able to put my mind at ease. It was probably the Holy Spirit, or just talking to another person. Likely, some mixture of both. Indeed, talking about something that ISN'T a deadly virus is novel and refreshing. One thing we talked about resonated in my weary, thirsty heart, which was the preoccupation with partisanship and how misleading it is. Obviously, I've shared before that I'm a left leaning centrist. But this talk isn't about who you, reader, should vote for, but about why the previous sentence is such a problem.

What purpose is there to say "I am," as if we have to right to define who we are, excised from the context of society? Two-thirds of the global population emphasizes (for better or worse) group membership over individual rights. Western societies are desperate for meaning and value, or some guiding principal that elevates the drudgery of day-to-day minutiae to a transcending super-context. Brand and influence, among many other things, guide our purchases in the free market. Do we wear Adidas? Do we play Gibson guitars? Do we wear Banana Republic? Is the product we put in our hair Paul Mitchell? And even if we purchased our clothing second hand from thrift stores or flea markets, the posturing, pretentiousness of wearing unbranded clothing is just as evil as buying Chanel. The working poor buy the table scraps of the rich to look presentable for job interviews and we have the gall to call it bohemian? But... I'm ranting.

No, the point that I'm trying to make is that we all are members of some defining super-context while pretending to be mavericks.

I think the preoccupation with politics of all varieties is distracting us from what is really important. Group membership and individual purpose feed off each other in great ways, though, when looking at my Facebook feed, the worst of both is being feed into each other like a feedback loop. What I see in my feed are the proud participants in a movement with no general impetus to action. Are constituents advancing the kinds of social justice preached by Bernie Sanders by becoming inner city teachers, or donating to their local food shelter, or participating in local town hall meetings to make certain that the poor aren't being priced out of their apartments? Are Christian Republicans advocating for the widows and orphans, stamping out institutionalized racism, or identifying and stopping hate speech and xenophobia? Even worse, are we all becoming arm chair philosophers, content to espousing what we believe, without any practical means to implement the change we so desperately want to make?

To all the Christians in the room, here's where shit gets real, really fast.

(Before I start, let me say that no one is innocent of this, myself included. But admitting we have a problem is always the first step on the road to spiritual recovery.)

I think it's easier for us to mesh Christianity with something other than the framing principals of the Kingdom of God. This makes it easier, right? We can say that Jesus was a democratic socialist, and then source our practices from news articles and academic journals. The framing context of Jesus is lost in the present zeitgeist, and then Jesus just becomes another branding icon. Things like the Cross become jewelry and the Book of Ecclesiastes a guide to smart real estate investment. We must remember that Jesus was/is a person, an individual. He wasn't a philosophy or a lifestyle or a populist movement.

The different demographics of 1st century Palestine listed in the New Testament weren't just fraternities or mystery cults, they were political parties, with real weight and power. Jesus wasn't a member of any of them, but instead spoke about his "kingdom" where everything was upside-down. And to be a member of this faction of Judaism was to refuse the norms of every competing worldview and philosophy. So this preoccupation today with certain factions and political theories, regardless of where one lies on the spectrum, is excluding Jesus from the picture. Sure, I can be a follower of Christ that practices the values of the current Kingdom of Heaven and vote and participate in a political society. But I can't be a democratic socialist, republican, centrist, anarchist, democrat, or libertarian that goes to church and reads the bible, and participates in community. In the former example, truth proceeds from Christ. In the latter, truth proceeds from the political party, dictating the praxis in which Christianity is contextualized and put to work. So I think the frustration that we all feel, the lack of fulfillment in partisan discourse, comes from the lack of value and fulfillment we receive when our true god is Rush Limbaugh or Arianna Huffington, Fender or Gibson, Coke or Pepsi, MSNBC or Fox News, and not Jesus Christ.

Obviously, if you are reading this and are not a Christian, the whole previous paragraph is moot. But, having an awareness that not all civilizations, societies, groups, and philosophies are perfect, allows breathing room to admit flaw and culpability. Don't you worry about what Christians think. It doesn't matter what we think, because we are all crazy, right? It is more realistic to believe that we are fallible, and the progression of humanism motivates us to accept blame and proceed with caution, right? We can just be that one group that believes that we are right, that everyone is wrong, but are proceeding out of a metaphysical system that, at its core, preaches love and forgiveness.

Therefore, in light of the words above, for ease of mind and calmness, accept the fallibility of your philosophy. Accept the peace of knowing that the change you want, is the change you can make your damned self, without the congratulatory approval of others.

I'm out.

PS: Sorry for such a delay since the previous post. Rest assured, I'm working on the book and it's gonna' be great!