Any political system's bread and butter is the claim that things are bad, but our system alone can make it better. It's true of our two major political parties and all of the outliers. We saw it this past week at the RNC. We'll see it with slightly different clothes on at the DNC. But the message is the same: there's only one solution to our country's problems, and it's us. Our news channels operate the same way. You will attract more eyeballs to your station if you have more bad things to report.
However, the reporting of bad things does not actual equal the increase in bad things. Just because we hear about more earthquakes or shootings on the news doesn't mean there are more earthquakes and shootings. It just means that we've gotten really, really good at reporting them at the moment they're happening.
If you were to ask me, "What decade would you want to raise your kids in in American history," I would have to say, "This one. The one we're in."
There has been no better time to live and raise kids in American history.
There has been no better time to live in the world's history.
Life expectancy, global poverty, technology, violence and crime, access to information -- all of these numbers have been going the right direction over the past 6 to 7 decades. Any illusion of a golden age of the past is exactly that - a mirage.
We've been singing this song at church recently called "No Longer Slaves." It's main refrain is "I'm no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God." It echoes Paul's reminder to us that, "
God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline" (1 Timothy 1:7).
That has been Emily and I's refrain as we carefully look at the news, watch what's happening in our political systems, and view with sadness the violence happening in our world. There are obviously bad things going down in our country and in the world.
But we chose to be a people of not of despair, not of fear, not us versus them, but a people of manifested hope - that God will make all things right and is calling His people to be a part the process.
Here are our commitments this political season (and in general) on how we plan on being people of hope instead of fear.
- No passive news gathering. For us that means no televised news at all. No talk radio or headline skimming via social media. Instead we commit to active news gathering, reading well documented and written news from a variety of sources and viewpoints. When possible we prefer publicly funded news over advertising-based news.
- No over-simplifications. We will not engage with social media memes that, by nature, over-simplifies complicated issues into 2 or 3 lines of text.
- Every community is made up of individuals. We will do our best to put context to stories about groups (blacks, immigrants, refugees, police officers) by reading stories about the individuals that make up those groups.
- Policy over outcomes. Any middle school student council candidate can talk about outcomes (Free soda for every student! No more homework!). In our discussions, we will prefer conversation about actual policy rather than politics or preferred outcomes. (e.g. Yes, we'd all like less expensive health insurance; what policy will actually accomplish this?)
- Kingdom-minded solutions. We see ourselves first and foremost part of the global community (God's creation); secondly as God's church (God's children); and lastly as American citizens. When we hear of problems that need solutions, our thoughts will go first to how these solutions can be solved by God's church acting in the world as God has called it to; and we will seek the welfare of God's creation above and beyond that of my own country.
Will you join us in these commitments? Will you help us make the conversations in our homes, workplaces, and online spaces be more productive and helpful?