Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Better Us than Them

I was thinking today about politics. I know I've gone over this before. Politics is not the same as government or elections. Politics is the way we interact with the people around us - sometimes we do that through voting and government programs. Sometimes its appropriate to do things that way. More often than not, though, our politics should be more focused on our way of life, the way we treat the people with whom we interact on a day to day basis. It seems far too many people have allowed our electoral process to rob them of real politics.

You hear it all the time, "Obama is really screwing with ___________," or "The GOP Congress can't get ___________ right." Both of those statements very well may be true (or completely ridiculous, you know), but what really sort of breaks my heart is how people let those kinds of perspectives shape their outlook on life. They're soul crushing perspectives, sometimes, and as much as we want to blame evil entity x or y, it's a self-inflicted soul crushing.

An elected leader can make your life easier or more difficult. That's it. I mean, I suppose in an extreme sense they could kill you, but that's a pretty slim minority of my typical readers. The only thing a politicians can do to you or for you is make like a little easier or a little more difficult. And even that ability is dwarfed by the same ability possessed by those around you - family, neighbors, friends, coworkers, fellow commuters. No politicians can touch the ability those people have to make our lives a little tougher or a little easier.

Anything they might do to us beyond that, well, it's something we let them do.

We control how we're going to face the day, the attitude we'll have towards people and the actions we take. Yes, some people and situations are more trying than others and we're all going to fall short of our own expectations of ourselves from time to time, but in the end, our lives are our own and we don't have to give others (especially virtual strangers elected to positions far, far away) any say over those lives. No law tells us what we can or cannot do - they simply tell us the possible consequences of doing those things. It's up to us to decide whether the action is still worth doing.

I'll admit, I get entitled. I fell important and deserving of specific treatment. That's when this sort of self-inflicted harm happens easiest. We feel we have a right to something and someone else is taking that away. I'm not always good at dealing with those situations, but I'm trying and I hope I'm getting better.

For me, the bottom line is suffering. I don't like it. I'd love for the world to work in such a way that my life is as easy as it could possibly be. Of course I also sort of know that such a world would not be good for me. It would not make me into the kind of person I was created to be. Suffering sucks, but it's also really important.

Now no one should be forced to suffer, that's for sure (I think they call that torture or something), although it certainly happens everyday. At the same time, for people who attempt to follow in the way of Christ, suffering is part of the gig. Suffering comes with the territory. In fact, sometimes we're called to suffer even when we don't have to, specifically because "better us than them." I know lots of people say that the other way - better them than us - but Christian are a mixed up lot. We do things different.

If the only reason you're upset is because your life is inconvenienced - well, it's alright be upset, it really is - but we also need to work hard so that upset-ness isn't what influences our actions.

Yes, people can make our lives difficult, but our response to that matters. For followers of Christ, when faced with the choice between fighting and suffering, we chose, at least for ourselves, suffering. It's what we do.

It's not always fun, but, you know, embracing that reality actually helps you feel a little more in-control of your life, which is never a bad thing.

PS - I don't really know what that picture is, but it's kinda cool.

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