E-pistle November 5

So far as it depends on you: saying no to personal attacks
The election, Thanksgiving and school board politics
 
1863 Attach AdThe election is now past, and it was an important election. The pundits will spill much ink trying to figure out what it all means. Each of us would do well to give a try at some figuring, too.  What does this election with its shifts and changes say to us and about us? Course correction or buyer’s remorse? Did they betray the confidence we put in them last time around, or are we so fickle as to never know exactly what it is we want? Did we vote high principles or rank self-interest.  And if so, did our high principles change in two years? We already know that rank self-interest shifts with each new tide. Was it an electorate sobered by reality or drunk with anger that went to the polls this past Tuesday? What does the election say to me and about me?
 
Gather a roomful of random LPC people to talk about the election and its unlikely that we’d all agree on much (and that is a very good thing!).  One thing almost all of us would agree to, though, is that it is a very good thing that the attack ads are gone, gone from our television screens and gone from our mailboxes.
 
Disagreement over substantive issues is nothing new, and is the lifeblood of a healthy democracy. Political passions have been at the heart of every good and great movement from independence to abolition, civil rights to right to life.
 
But way too often disagreement about causes becomes nastiness between persons.
 
Personal attack is nothing new in politics. Click here for a reminder of that fact. (The political cartoon above is from 1863 and shows Abraham Lincoln as a monkey with the Emancipation Proclamation in hand being read by a freed slave.)

The art of personal attack is sometimes bold and brazen – lies and falsehoods with no grounding in truth.  But more often it paints pictures in hues of half-truths, innuendo, implied motive and an appeal to a whole pallet of ugly –isms.
 
There is no place in the Kingdom of God or among its people for personal attack. The King said so.
 
The Apostle Paul put it this way, “so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”
 
I’m glad that the attack ads have been silenced for another two years. I wish we’d figure out how to silence other personal attacks for at least as long. So what about those personal attacks we hear (or make) as we head into the holidays? “She never does her share in getting ready for Thanksgiving.” “I don’t even want to go if he’s going to be there.” “I’ll say what I want to say. I don’t care what your mother thinks.”
 
So far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
 
And listen, LPC family, that we don’t agree on school board and teacher contract politics is not a problem. In the particular situation confronting the Neshaminy School District, our passions for the quality of public education and wise stewardship of public resources are bound to bump and collide and cause some friction. That is what democracy is about.
 
But personal attacks – graffiti sprayed on the walls of our common life in shades of half-truths, innuendo, implied motive and an appeal to a whole pallet of ugly –isms – have no place among Kingdom people. The King said so.
 
The Apostle Paul put it this way, “so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”
 
As your pastor, I will always tell you to vote, but never how to vote. But I will join the Apostle Paul in telling you how we must behave with one another: “so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”