Thursday, October 14, 2010

On falling leaves and rising standards

Fall is an amazing time of year.

I grew up in southern Arizona, and even after living in the midwest for many years, I still find this season a novelty. When the sun shines on the trees, the changing leaves look like jewels.

There are so many things I love about the autumn season. But election time is not one of them.

Don't get me wrong — I'm very grateful for the right and ability to vote. But I tire quickly of campaign ads where a candidate attacks the opponent rather than speaking on his or her own position on the issues.

Jim Wallis, writing in God's Politics, calls Christians to focus on truth and civility during the election season:

Between now and the election, I think there are three lessons of particular importance.

First, we Christians are politically different, but unified in Christ. Too often the church has reflected the political divisions of our culture rather than the unity we have in the body of Christ. The church in the United States can offer a message of hope and reconciliation to a nation that is deeply divided by political and cultural differences. We can disagree, but how we disagree with one another is a question of our witness for Christ.

Second, we should speak the truth and seek it. It is morally irresponsible to forward “rumor emails” without first checking the facts. Too often we focus on media caricatures of political figures. It might be the belief that Obama is a “secret Muslim” or that Sarah Palin actually said, “I can see Russia from my house.” (That was actually said by Tina Fey during her parody of Palin.)

Third, we must hold to the statement, “out of many, one.” “E pluribus unum” was not an admission of weakness but a proclamation of strength. The health of our democracy depends not only upon the outcomes of elections but also how those elections happen. We should all be able to say, in the words of Jon Stewart, “I disagree with you, but I’m pretty sure you’re not Hitler.”
The post includes a link to the Civility Covenant, in which each signer commits to civil discourse. I signed it, and I'd encourage you to prayerfully consider doing the same.



  1. LOL, I think I'll pass this along to my in-laws :). We all vote the same way (Catholic principles), but even then we could all use a civility covenant when talking about the "opposition." Thanks for this.

  2. This isn't directly related to the point of your post, but I was listening to NPR tonight and there was a segment about political attack ads. The reporter(s) did some man-on-the-street type interviews. Besides the fact that the people interviewed find them annoying and uncivil, many raised questions about the ads' veracity, especially if the sponsors aren't named. IMO, the sad thing is, because most people aren't going to take the time to seek out where the information is coming from, the people who already have negative perceptions of a given candidate will have their beliefs reinforced by attacks that aren't even necessarily true.

    I just found that very sad. Voting responsibly is such hard work lately.


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