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Archive for October 30th, 2008

From a medical student in Evansville, Indiana, who voted early:

“For me the most moving moment came when the family in front of me, comprising probably 4 generations of voters (including an 18 year old girl voting for her first time and a 90-something hunched-over grandmother), got their turn to vote. When the old woman left the voting booth she made it about halfway to the door before collapsing in a nearby chair, where she began weeping uncontrollably. When we rushed over to help we realized that she wasn’t in trouble at all but she had not truly believed, until she left the booth, that she would ever live long enough to cast a vote for an African-American for president. Anyone who doesn’t think that African-American turnout will absolutely SHATTER every existing record is in for a very rude surprise.”

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I haven’t been posting political items in this blog very much, and while this news clip is definately about the political campaign and the manic postures that are being adopted by people, I’m posting it here to point out something larger than politics.  Sound bites and aphorisms are unfortunately some of the most significant modes of discourse in the public arena, especially when it comes to politics.  There are exceptions to this, but the simple fact is that media whose goal is to get ratings will not end up answering to the public trust, but answering their advertisers.

I sincerely hope that Joe the plumber is not representative of America.  The fact that he would agree to such a vitriolic and unsubstantiated statement and then that he would refuse to come clean and say why he said it–what his reasons are, etc. is appalling and all too common today.  I would have had more respect for him if he had said that he was wrong to agree with an idea about which he knew nothing of the issues, but he did not.  He stubbornly clung to his pride, unable to see or care how such divisive, unsubstantiated, and factually incorrect comments can wound people, erode international relationships, and further propogate the impression among the world that the US cares not a whit for justice or mercy, but only for our own interests.  “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or empty conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Your attitudes should be the same as Christ Jesus, who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant”  (Phil 2:3-7).

I have recently been reminded that words DO have strong effects on life.  They can would deeply, but they can also help to heal.  Let us be careful, then, how we speak–about God, about each other, about politics, about people who are different than ourselves.

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