Politics, Fear, and Third Party Canidates

 

When I told Bryan I was thinking of writing this post he was surprised. “Should I not do it?” I asked. “No, I think you should, I just didn’t think you had the guts.” He replied. “Neither did I.” I laughed.

That little bit of conversation gives you an idea about how nervous I’m feeling writing this post. I don’t really like conflict. I am not very political and honestly I don’t usually understand how fierce people can get over politics. Maybe part of why I didn’t understand it is that I don’t really agree with the fiery people around me. Maybe it’s partly because the issues people get fiery about aren’t usually the same issues I really care about. Maybe it also feels a bit pointless getting fired up about something when you really are quite powerless.

When it comes down to it, I feel like I didn’t have much choice. I always felt like my vote had to go to one of the two main parties and neither of them really resonated with me all that much.

In every Presidental election I’ve participated in my deciding factor when it came time to check one box or the other was this, “which guys better than the other?” Which is the “lesser evil”? But, honestly, is that really a good way to pick the person who’s going to run our country?

I consider myself relatively informed, especially in the last few elections, but I still would say that at the end of the day I didn’t vote for someone because I really supported THEM and their party and their stance on important issues, but instead voted for them because I thought they were better than the OTHER GUY. I didn’t vote FOR a candidate I voted AGAINST a candidate.

And when it comes down to it that’s how I’ve voted in all the elections I’ve participated in. I voted out of fear instead of conviction. The fear may have been different depending on where I was at in life and different influences. The boxes I ticked may have been different, but the fear was the same really.

Bryan and I try hard in our personal lives not to be driven by fear and not to make decisions out of fear. I don’t think I should turn around and decide who I’m gonna vote for now out of fear. This election I really wanted to vote FOR someone, instead of just AGAINST someone.

So, when a friend posted about isidewith.com on facebook I was intrigued. Here is a site where you can take a quizz and it will tell you which candidates you line up with best. I was intrigued. But, I was also skeptical.

I didn’t feel like I fit in any party. But, I also don’t really feel like the democratic party fit or always emphasised the things I really care about. I knew there were third party options, but knew very little about them and assumed they were mostly just extreme options that wouldn’t fit me either. So, I took the quizz, completely expecting to get a really mixed answer with low percentages across the board.

I was first surprised to find how thorough the quizz was. It covered a lot of issues and policies and even had a way for you to designate which ones were most important to you. And then I got my results: 88% Jill Stein, green party.

I was surprised. 88% is a pretty high percentage. It means that my views line up with Jill Stein and the green party view a vast majority of the time. After getting over my surprise that there actually is a party out there that for the most part fits with my opinions, my next thought was “I don’t know anything about the green party, well, apart from the whole Nader thing.” In fact as I thought about it all I was taught about the green party, and third party candidates in general, was that they aren’t good because they pull votes away from the main party candidates.

So, I started reading about the green party and was surprised again. Overall, there was a lot that resonated with me in this party that emphasized environmental stewardship, social justice, and equality.

Ok, I have to stop right here for a moment and tell you what happened when I got to this point in writing this post… I sort of freaked out internally. I set the post aside. I started rethinking posting this, but more than that I started really debating in my head the merits of voting for a third party candidate. I started feeling fear. And I started asking myself, why the heck am I writing this post and telling the world all this anyway? But, I worked through all that and I’m back writing again.

When it really comes down to it there’s two things I want to share and these two things are why I’m writing this post:

First, I hear a lot of people bemoaning their choices during elections, saying that they don’t really like either choice, but “this guy is better than that guy”. That really is no way to pick our leaders. Or at least I don’t think so and I don’t want to vote like that anymore. And really I’m realizing that our choices are only limited if we allow them to be.

As long as we vote that way and continue to buy into the two party system nothing is really gonna change. Third party candidates won’t be taken seriously and won’t be given a place at the table until people start to step out and vote for them. Truth be told voting for a third party candidate probably won’t change much in this election, but it could start changing things for the next election and the one after that. Because if they can get just 5% of the vote then people may start taking them seriously and including them in debates.

And really how bad would it be if either of the two main party candidates this time around won? When I try to rationally answer that question, well, not that bad or at least not that different.

Perhaps this is part of why the big parties promote such fear (and even terror), because if people believe that it’ll be “the end of the world” or something equally terrifying if the other candidate wins then they won’t risk “throwing away their vote” on a third party candidate. If they believe that the worst will happen if the “other” candidate wins then they will vote for the main party candidate closest to their views even if they don’t really agree with them.

Which leads me to my second point…. I don’t want to live in fear. And I don’t want to vote in fear. And I don’t want to be inundated by the opinions of those who do.

I’ll be happy when this whole thing is over. Because, whoever wins, God will still be on the throne after this election and at least all my feeds won’t be inundated with politics anymore (or at least not as much).

Rejoicing in the journey,

Bethany Stedman

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Immigration: Choosing Love Instead of Fear

I don’t often write about political issues. I don’t like politics. I don’t like talking about politics or thinking about politics. It tends to just make me upset. But I’m excited that the Christian synchroblog I used to be a part of is starting up again and I want to jump back in even though this month’s topic is a very political issue.

I’ll be honest, I don’t feel like I have something really helpful to add to the debate. I don’t have a solution for the “immigration problem”. I don’t know all the ins and outs, or all the pros and cons of different suggestions. I don’t have any idea what a Christian policy on immigration should really look like – I’m not sure there really is ONE “Christian policy on immigration”. I am sure that the issue is complex, that there are probably a variety of solutions that would solve a variety of the problems that arise when dealing with immigration. I’m sure that there are a multitude of “right” approaches.

Personally, I don’t want to talk about solutions, or suggestions today. I don’t want to talk about the legality of the issue, or about how it relates to jobs and the economy. I don’t want to talk about the politics of the situation. What I want to talk about is attitude.

As followers of Christ what should our attitude be towards immigrants? I don’t know about you but so often when I hear people talking about the “immigration issue” I hear a lot of negativity and very little love. I hear a lot of prejudice and racism and not a lot of love. I hear a lot of condemnation and not a lot of love. I believe that as Christians we should take a higher approach, a different stance. We should try to understand instead of condemn, to help instead of degrade and to love instead of fear.

I think a lot of the problem comes from fear. People fear immigration and immigrants. They fear the influence that immigrants (both legal and illegal) will have on the American economy, culture, and political system. They believe that we have to protect America and that the protection of America is the ultimate goal and makes any act (including the restriction of civil liberties) justifiable. Out of fear, policies are then made that restrict civil liberties (case in point: Arizona). The restriction of civil liberties due to fear is much more detrimental to America than immigration will ever be.

The truth of the matter is that we are all foreigners and strangers on this earth. The truth of the matter is that our ultimate allegiance is not to a specific country and protecting its way of life. Our ultimate allegiance is not to a specific political or economic system. Our ultimate allegiance IS to Christ Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and his radical new kingdom.

As Christians, I believe we need to support policies that are not driven by fear, but are instead driven by love and sound reasoning. We need to remember that although we owe America some gratitude and allegiance for the gifts that it provides us with, America is just a nation – nations rise and fall, but our allegiance is to God most High and Him alone. We need to remember that immigrants are our brothers and sisters, even if they look and act differently than we do. They each have unique stories to tell and a no matter how they crossed our boarders, or why they crossed our boarders, God loves them passionately and recklessly and so should we.

Rejoicing in the journey –
Bethany Stedman

Here are the other synchroblog participants posts. Hope you all enjoy the discussion! I know I’m really looking forward to reading through these:

Mike Victorino at Still A Night Owl – ‘Being the Flag
Sonnie Swentson-Forbes at Hey Sonnie – ‘Immigration Stories
Steven Calascione at Eirenikos – ‘The Jealousy of Migration
George Elerick at The Love Revolution – ‘We’re Not Kings or Gods
Liz Dyer at Grace Rules – “Together We Can Make Dreams Come True
Sonnie Swentson at A Piece of My Mind – “Immigration Stories
Matt Stone at Global Christianity – “Is Xenophobia Every Christlike?
Steve Hayes at Khanya – “Christians And The Immigration Issue
Ellen Haroutunian – “Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Huddled Masses
Beth Stedman – “Immigration: Choosing Love Instead of Fear
Pete Houston at Peter’s Progress – “Of Rape And Refuge
Joshua Seek – “Loving Our Immigrant Brother
Amanda MacInnis at Cheese Wearing Theology – “Christians and Immigration
Sonja Andrews at Calacirian – “You’re Right
Kathy Escobar at Carnival In My Head – “It’s A Lot Easier To Be Against Immigration Reform When You Have Papers
Jonathan Brink – “Immigration Synchroblog
Beth Patterson at Virtual Tea House – “What we resist not only persists but eventually becomes our landlord”

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Post-Election thoughts and readings…

There’s been a lot said in the blog world over the last few days about the election. Some are rejoicing, some are mourning, some are criticizing and some are honestly processing. Today I feel thankful that most of the people I choose to surround myself with have been thoughtful and compassionate throughout this election and continue to be so now at the close of it.

Last night we spoke briefly at bible study about the election and we started to talk about how “terrible” it can be when Christians so vehemently and even hatefully attack the “other side.” But, as we talked I (we) were reminded that when we talk about others like that then we are no different. I was reminded that some people don’t have the same world view I do, they read scripture differently and they come to different conclusions, and that is ok. The same God works in them. They are loved and cherished deeply. I often fall into feeling superior and criticizing the “stupidity” I see around me, but in doing so I am not showing love, I am not acting as Christ calls me to act. So, forgive me Lord, and change me, help me to love like you love. Help me to be able to really see and understand and have compassion and love for those who are different from me and those who think differently from me. In Jesus name.

Ok, so I know I’ve done a lot of linking lately but here are some posts about the election and its outcome that I thought I’d share:

The Element blog page had some good things to say about this election and people’s responses to it. I especially liked Chad Demiguel’s post entitled, After the fact.  He writes,

“As children of God, our response to the world should always be one of faith, hope and love. Let’s be proactive about praying for this next president, whoever he is. Let’s honor our leader in how we discuss him in conversation with others, especially if we disagree with him. Let’s be the kind of citizens that inspire those who don’t know God toward citizenship in the City of God. If for whatever reason we experience the best or worst four years our country has ever seen, let’s do what Martin Luther prescribes. Let’s plant a tree – meaning, let’s daily create God-inspired aspects of His kingdom. Let’s constantly, lovingly be on the lookout for how we can bestow life to a country that needs it so greatly.”

Sean and CJ Bergemen also shared some revealing and insightful thoughts on the Element blog in their posts, My Heart on 11.05.08 – Part 1 and My Heart as well. CJ writes,

“He is glorified when we take hold of every action and every deed. When we show restraint with our words. When we use our words to build each other up, when we don’t assume that everyone does or should believe everything we believe. I wrestled over my decision up until the last second of voting, and asked God to direct me the entire way… The more I thought and prayed about it, the more compelled I felt to be less sure that any opinion I have truly is the ‘right’ one, the one that honors God the most. I will continue to carry a sense in my heart that I may have made the wrong choice, which will remind me that ultimately Jesus is always the right choice, and praise God He is on the throne, and not me, and not a politician.”

I appreciated this post by Jeremy at A Mending Shift, Hope vs. Fear.

Here is a Prayer for President elect Obama from Sally Coleman at Eternal Echoes.

Here’s A Prayer from South Africa for Barack Obama.

Rejoicing in the journey –
Bethany Stedman

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A Leadership Mosaic

This month’s synchroblog is on leadership, an appropriate topic for today. But, as I thought of what to write I realized that so much has already been said on the subject and so much more will be said… So, today I want to give you a little mosaic sampling of what has been said on leadership and what others are saying on leadership today. I hope that you find it thought provoking.

“When kings the sword of justice first lay down, They are no kings, though they possess the crown. Titles are shadows, crowns are empty things, The good of subjects is the end of kings.” – Defoe

“We may please ourselves with the prospect of free and popular governments. But there is great danger that those governments will not make us happy. God grant they may. But I fear that in every assembly, members will obtain an influence [leadership] by noise not sense. By meanness, not greatness. By ignorance, not learning. By contracted hearts, not large souls… There is one thing, my dear sir, that must be attempted and most sacredly observed or we are all undone. There must be decency and respect, and veneration introduced for persons o authority or every rank, or we are undone. In a popular government, this is our only way.” – John Adams

“He seeks information from all quarters and judges more independently than any man I ever saw.” – John Adams speaking of George Washington (those are traits that I personally look for in a leader)

“Never give a sword to a man who can’t dance.” – Celtic saying

“To lead people, walk beside them… As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence. The next best, the people honor and praise. The next, the people fear, and the next, the people hate… When the best leader’s work is done the people say, ‘We did it ourselves!’” – Lao-tsu

“You do not lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not leadership.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

“Strange as it sounds, great leaders gain authority by giving it away.” – Admiral James B. Stockdale

“Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.” – Harry Truman

“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.” – Max DePree

“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.” – Rosalynn Carter

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” – Abraham Lincoln

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

Here’s what other people are saying about leadership today:

Jonathan Brink – Letter To The President

Adam Gonnerman – Aspiring to the Episcopate

Kai – Leadership – Is Servant Leadership a Broken Model?

Sally Coleman – In the world but not of it- servant leadership for the 21st Century Church

Alan Knox – Submission is given not taken

Joe Miller – Elders Lead a Healthy Family: The Future

Cobus van Wyngaard – Empowering leadership

Steve Hayes – Servant leadership

Geoff Matheson – Leadership

John Smulo – Australian Leadership Lessons

Helen Mildenhall – Leadership

Tyler Savage – Moral Leadership – Is it what we need?

Bryan Riley – Leading is to Listen and Obey

Susan Barnes – Give someone else a turn!

Liz Dyer – A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Polls…

Ellen Haroutunian – A New Kind of Leadership

Matt Stone – Converting Leadership

Steve Bradley – Lording or Leading?

Adam Myers – Two types of Leadership

Kathy Escobar – I’m Pretty Sure This Book Won’t Make It On The Bestseller List

Fuzzy Orthodoxy – Self Leadership

Sonja Andrews – Leadership In An Age of Cholera

Tara Hull – Leadership & Being A Single Mom

Beth Patterson – Leadership: Being the River

Bill Ellis – Spiritual Leadership and the re-humanizing of our world

Joe S. – Leadership: This election and social justice

Rejoicing in the journey –
Bethany Stedman

If you like this post please consider buying me a cup of tea (Suggested: $3 a cup)

Politics and Abortion

This post is a guest post written by Mathias Schwender. Mathias and his wife Carrie (who I wrote about here) are good friends of ours and incredible people. The other night we were having dinner with them and the topic of abortion and politics came up and Mathias shared some interesting insight. I knew at the time that there were others in the blogosphere writing about this topic lately so I invited Mathias to be my first guest blogger as part of this impromptu synchroblog.

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I am not a woman. I cannot pretend I have felt, lived through, experienced, suffered or wrestled with the decision of giving or not giving birth to an unwanted baby. Yet I have compassion for women in this situation and the last thing I wish for them is to be persecuted, punished or being outcast. In a way I think it is not fair that women are way more affected by giving birth or not giving birth than men – regardless how involved men are.

We as a society and fellow humans must respect and acknowledge that women that do not want to give birth to their child are already put on a burden that seems too much to carry. We have the obligation to come and support and help and endure with them.

Nevertheless I want to speak out for those humans that share life with me on this earth. I want to speak out for those that do not have a voice. They are my brothers and sisters and therefore I am qualified to speak out for them.

I strongly feel it is not right to give in to what seems so fair: ‘let her not have the child’. I strongly disagree that one (or more) human beings have the right to end someone else’s life. Why does the most vulnerable, innocent person not have a right to live? Why can it be sent to death because the father or mother or the society as a whole decides so? Since when is a human life only valued as such if it is desired? Where else in our society does someone have the ‘right to choose’ over someone else’s life?

Let’s say my grandmother is sick and I have to take care of her and I cannot afford to look after her or I just simply think this is inconvenient for me. Why can’t I just push her down the staircase? If it is about me and my social or economical situation then this should also be ok to do that, no?

No. I cannot just end someone else’s life because it is not my life and I cannot end it. That’s why.

And this is not because I am a Christian or anything else. This is because I want to live in a society that honors life.

We should really stop making this a religious question anything more than caring for the elders, paying our taxes or coming up with a good health care plan.

I like Obama. I think he would be the better president. And I actually would probably vote for him if I carried the right passport. Yet it bothers me that he is inconsistent. With his health care plan he says: we need to protect every American. We need to protect children. We cannot just let the parents make the choice if they want to ensure the children or not. Health insurance must extend to everybody.

I agree with him. I think it is a good plan. But then when it comes to abortion he suddenly says: the mother is able to take the best decision for her baby. She is most qualified to decide.

Why can’t the parents decide if their children get health insurance but apparently can decide if the child will live or die? I don’t get it.

What personally woke me up and made me aware of this was statistics I have lately seen. Only in the US more than 1,2 million babies get aborted every single year. Source: http://www.abort73.com/HTML/II-A-abortion_statistics. ( I think this is one out of three conceived babies)This is just so incredible. As a comparison: on 9/11 we had about 3000 people dying on a single day and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq happened as a consequence. With abortions this amount of people die every single (!) day and nothing really seems to happen as a consequence.

What I would propose to do about it on a governmental level:

1. Start with having a restricted abortion policy. In Germany (where I am from) for example, abortions can only legally be done to the 12th week and a medical or social reason must be given and approved by a doctor.

Source: http://www.pro-leben.de/abtr/abtreibung_daten.php

I think it is totally inacceptable and horrifying that in many western European countries and also the USA you can abort a child an hour before it gets born without giving even a reason. I can see how people argue about early abortions but to kill a fully grown baby just because it didn’t yet come out of the mother’s womb is just incredible.

2. Women that go through unwanted pregnancies must get government and financial help to get through and deliver the baby. Economical reasons should get entirely ruled out.

3. To give the child up for adoption must become much easier. Also bureaucratic hurdles in adopting a child must get a lot more straightforward.

4. Change the laws so abortions with some restricted, defined and very limited exceptions (which have to be monitored in a transparent way by an independent institution) should become illegal. When slavery was legal there were only a few people that thought it was a bad thing. Now it’s illegal and people also think it is a bad thing. But it took a while. We shape the conscious of a society if we ok with our laws certain things. Changing the laws will slowly then also change how people feel about abortions. I know for this we need majorities. Every little step helps. The little I can do I want to do for it.

Mathias Schwender

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Check out these links to hear what others are saying:

Abortion Politics and Christianity

The Moral Minefield

Politics and Abortion: Impromptu Synchroblog

Dr. James Howell on the Divisive Issue of Abortion

The Politics of Abortion: The Moral Minefield

Rejoicing in the journey –
Bethany Stedman

If you like this post please consider buying me a cup of tea (Suggested: $3 a cup)