I waved at the guy in the trench coat as he waved at me. We know each other from being involved in the community - he for much longer, and with much more influence than me. And he had huge posters and several volunteers putting those posters on the big, long fence of the big, long parking lot for the small convenience store/pharmacy.
photo © 2008 Ryan Glenn | more info (via: Wylio)
And here I was with the opposition's button on my jacket.
But that's all I needed, I thought. Just give me one button on one man of strong character. Just give me one button shared by a woman of known courage. Just give me one person who I can rely on, one person who's done much for his community. One woman who can neither be bought nor sold.
And then see who he is standing behind, and why.
That is worth more than a million empty platitudes. Worth far more than a thousand posters, than free press for tired exchanges.
The Christian church, as we've mentioned the other day, is pretty complacent to go with the flow. Like those typical volunteers, it realizes what it needs in order to get people into the doors: Name recognition. Brand capitalizing.
We sing songs in church about Jesus, Jesus, that he's so awesome and wonderful and holy and famous. But we don't know why he should have our awe, our attention. Anything more than our vote, if that. There's not much of substance, not much that lasts. All glitter, no gold.
In politics, the entrenched powers know that in order to stay in power, they need to get out their supporters. Usually, their supporters are low-information voters. These voters do as they're told, whether or not they believe they are. They vote for the person they see on TV, or hear about everybody else talking about, or whose name they can identify from some posters. The elected officials count on these people to re-elect them. The worse the elected officials are, the more they depend on these people. And no one else. They realize that if all things were equal, those who dislike them would likely vote them out. So the other end of the campaign - the one worked at through years and years of disgusting practice and psycho-warfare - is to disengage all of the non-dependables.
If your vote can't be trusted on, the Machine would rather you not vote. So they make it seem like there is no point in voting or running against them by destroying nearly every chance at electoral reform tossed their way. Until the would-be reformer voters decide that voting is only continuing the machine of abuse.
Many former church goers - and those within the surrounding post-Christian culture - also feel disconnected and cynical about Christianity - or at the least, churches. The difference here is that it is not as a direct result of deliberate strategy by the entrenched. It is, however, often an indirect result of deliberate actions by the entrenched. Power struggles, to all who've been in any church for any amount of time are well aware, do not only reside in the secular chambers.
Or maybe they figure that the stories they've been told are just repackaged lies. They've been told time and again that if they follow this leader, things will change for the better.
And they look around. And things aren't getting better but for only a few people. And whatever dollars and door-knocking and high-praise they've delivered to the greater cause, they find, is in the long-run taken advantaged of and hasn't amounted to a hill of beans.
And so people see the big signs, they hear the generous words, the high-energy songs, the flowery or blustery oration. And they disconnect, drop out, disappear. It doesn't mean anything. Just words meant to draw attention to the stage while swift hands reach around and into their pockets.
But what if men and women would stand up and love? Would stand up and serve the greater interests of the entire community, not just those in power? And not just to use those on the outskirts to be in power? But because they truly, honestly, genuinely care and want to make the world a better, safer place?
What if you've been on display all this time. Not because you chose to be on display. Not because you sought to be on display or you're flashy. But because you work consistently for the good of all, not out of favors but out of the generosity of your own heart?
Wouldn't that be attractive? Wouldn't that be someone worth following? Wouldn't that be meaningful, to know that that person is one who is trustworthy?
That's who I want to follow - in politics and in the church. Because that's who I want to be.