A couple of months ago, during what seems an exhausting, stressful, never ending American election cycle, friends from the USA wrote begging prayer for their deeply troubled, self-mutilating country.
Ever since then this essay has been on and within my heart but every idea I came up with was rejected as being either finger wagging, vitriolic, smug, partisan – even though as a Canadian, obviously, I am not among the American electorate – or, I confess, pietistic.
Then unexpectedly yesterday clarity because not only the Gospel was the Beatitudes but I encountered someone who embodies the fundamental weakness both within left leaning and right leaning political parties/governments in modern democracies and why democratic governments, having caved and continuing to cave into the entitlement mindset, which poisons everyone and everything it touches, is devouring democracy as fiercely as terminal cancer devours human beings.
I had just left the light filled, warm, joyful rectory of a brother priest where we had enjoyed cake and coffee to celebrate the parish secretary’s birthday.
Stepping out into the cold wind and heavy wet snow, I walked the couple of blocks to the bus stop, noticing as I approached a middle-aged woman, not dressed for the weather, sitting in a wheel chair.
She motioned to me to come closer begging for money and a smoke as “It is my birthday.”
Taking care of the material request was simple but I could tell by her eyes what she truly hungered for, and so wished her a Happy Birthday and gave her a blessing.
Suddenly she was beaming and radiated with her smile gratitude she had been spoken with, seen as a real person.
That illuminated my heart about why I see the United States in this election cycle as self-mutilating, why I am profoundly concerned this will not end on November the 8th and why I am equally concerned modern democracies are eroding from within, irrespective if the governing party be from the left or the right, and see increasing and extremely dangerous anger and ballot box – for now – rebelliousness among the populations.
The clear majority of modern democracies trace their history back to a time when the world was divided between Christendom and that part of the human family where the Gospel had yet to penetrate.
Since WWII there has been, and continues to be, a determined rejection of and assault upon all things Christian, in Europe and North America as a matter of government policy, aided and abetted by media in all its forms and the so-called intelligentsia.
Those elites have become tone deaf to the Vox Populi because such elites are incapable of authentic recognition that every human being is one like myself.
Granted, what follows right here is an over simplification, but stresses the point: for the rightist people are incapable of……..[put your own word here if you are a rightist]…………..for the leftist people don’t know that this…………..[again if a leftist insert your own label]…is best for them.
Democracy is only authentic and effective if it is centrist, via media, the middle way which, for example, neither imposes a religion NOR deliberately attacks religious belief and expression.
It is only in the mature centre, where can be a found a balance between the Gospel of Life and the exercise of authentic freedom of choice in all matters of faith and morals [this presumes a maturity that accepts responsibility for the consequences of choosing] that the clear voice of the people, as individual persons and the communal Vox Populi can be heard and what is being said discerned and responded to.
The current election cycle in the USA, with each contender for president seemingly inexhaustible in their capacity for other bashing and lying, has a cacophony of angry voices, megaphoned by profit driven and agenda driven media on both sides, creating an atmosphere scarily reminiscent of the lead up to the original American Civil War.
The woman, minus warm clothing, sitting in her wheelchair on a cold and wet snowy afternoon of her birthday, simply wanted to be heard, seen, recognized as a human being.
When governments, politicians, indeed any of us, fail to see other as one like myself, fail to respond to the basic need to be recognized as, and spoken with, listened to, as a person worthy of love, dignity, irrespective of race, religion, status, political leaning, then the heart of such of our brothers and sisters is wounded ever more severely by such rejection and our failure to see them, hear them, deepens the wound.
Increasingly so wounded some retreat into despair, depression, addictions, while others become extremists of all sorts.
Beneath the veneer of a democratic election, and dangerously so, within the American population is an ever-increasing segment of the population alienated to a dangerously explosive juncture, not least because both political parties have chosen as candidate someone clearly unable to stop by our sister in her wheel chair and see her, hear her, speak to her love’s code word: Happy Birthday!
You are so right - thanks!
Thank-you Michael for you word and also for your own posts. Fr. Joseph
"It is easy to think the State has a lot of different objects — military, political, economic and what not. But in a way things are much simpler than that. The State exists simply to promote and to protect the ordinary happiness of human beings in this life. A husband and wife chatting over a fire, a couple of friends having a game of darts in a pub, a man reading a book in his own room or digging in his own garden — that is what the State is there for. And unless they are helping to increase and prolong and protect such moments, all the laws, parliaments, armies, courts, police, economics, etc., are simply a waste of time."
- CS Lewis, Mere Christianity
Excellent Fr. Mike, C. S. Lewis is a great teacher. Fr. Joseph
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