Does anyone else find it interesting when talking heads in media say things like “the people have decided,” or “America has chosen her next President,” whenever the percentages are something like 49% to 51%? Just recently in the UK, commentators were doing the same thing over Brexit, shouting over and over again that the “people” have decided to leave the EU. And however sympathetic I may be to Brexit — with their renewed possibilities for trade and liberation from an unelected and failed political project — this clearly does not reflect the will of an entire people, does it?
The winners will put men and women in power who will impose their values and agendas upon the minority of “losers.” Thus, how can we ever say that an entire country has decided? This is deluded. Democracies are flawed systems whose struggle is to indoctrinate us young so that whenever we have a chance to cast a vote, and come out on the winning side, we can say it was the collective “we” who decided.
If we put the “by the people, for the people” through the democratic lens, the old phrase reads like this: “by the winners, for the winners.”
The “we” is deceptive.
Watch as politicians vie for the American heart when the questions go to their resume of war: “Oh, well ‘we’ need to do better,” or they gush: “‘We’ need to protect ‘our’ children with an active military, blah blah blah.” Surely, whenever a leftist hears a Christian politician gush about the values of traditional marriage, said leftist doesn’t appreciate being brought into the “we” of that political statement. The “we” is always invoked as a form of violent conscription into an opposite ideology, which seems to be the fight of democracy these days. (side note: isn’t it possible that when the founders envisioned a “We the people,” they really meant “We the ‘states?'”) Centralized authority can only succeed by either slowly eliminating itself, or by conscripting an entire nation into its programs so that she can’t live without its influence. “No, you need us, if anything, to teach you how to live,” they say. Therefore, an entire generation begins to be formed by the idea that something is good only if it is legal, and bad if it is illegal…unless of course you get away with it. Life itself is more complicated than ever, so I understand the voter whose impulse is to vote competent men and women into office who will deal with the things they don’t want to deal with.
Someone recently told me that we should celebrate democracy, wherever it happens – even if the ends are not to our liking. According to her, democracy is a good within itself. I beg to differ. Democracy is good if the votes themselves can be cast in a way that everyone finds representation. A single transferable vote ensures that a diverse people will have their voices heard, but the problem is that this would mean salaries have to grow and the governments financial strength will be diminished. Money equals power to these people, so how would they ever let go of said power?
The political is a science for how people organize themselves. Jesus himself has a politik – he called it the Kingdom of God.
I am not saying that we should turn America’s democracy into a theocracy, where somehow Jesus is put in the oval office. No, the office is too busy with choosing which “enemy” dies over a plate of scrambled eggs. All I am saying is that there has to be a better way, and there is: a moral revolution.
The “we” in this sentence needs to change.
You may not attend church every Sunday but I do. And one difference between going to church in the South, versus going to church up North, is that we frequently have signs that say “Pray for our troops!” Did you catch that? Once again, the victorious “our” is inflicted upon the community. When I see these signs I want to approach the pastor and ask, “Excuse me, but who is this ‘our’ you speak of?” No matter how much the difference may exist, the evangelical church seems hell bent on being a chaplain to the state, not a prophet to said state. the issue is not democracy — that is a system — the issues are wrapped up in competing visions.
Are they troops of the church?
Soldiers aren’t fighters for the church! God will defend his church. He has no use of military might, nor the missiles of the clever western democracies. I believe the gospel accepts that when you look upon the international scene, it’s not as simple as cowboys and indians; red versus blue. Just look at the numbers of soldiers coming home with PTSD. The numbers alone should cause any reasonable person to think that this may not be working.
I am a christian, and that identity trumps (no pun intended) all other identities, but it does not negate them. I love America, and I love her soldiers who do take tremendous risks, but let us be clear: the church is vision of true humanity to the weak, lonely, and even the violent. And our sacrificial nature does not give up simply because another person might want to kill us. I don’t believe in tolerance because “tolerance” is the position of those in power, and the church is not in power. I believe in Love, and that is harder, and far more risky. If only we treated “our” missionaries like “our” soldiers, we might actually change the world.
God is a warrior, but a different kind of warrior. He establishes his Way forever on the witness of Jesus on the cross, and He does not give up, even though we whip him. For us, the cross has to become more than a moment we cling to in order to find personal peace. It must be a political statement that proclaims how we believe the world should be ordered. And of course this is unreasonable. But I was not re-born into reason or pragmatism. I was re-born into the Kingdom of God.