Political advertisements assail our TVs. Yard signs sprout on every block. E-mail solicitations storm our inboxes. Whether we like it or not, Nov. 6 is just around the corner. Short of going underground -- or moving to Canada -- how is a person to survive the torrent? It's no easy task to stay faithful, friendly and unperturbed during election season. So, before you throw a shoe at your TV, take a deep breath and try out these these seven practices:
1. Pray. Pray for patience and understanding for yourself, but also for justice, peace and love to prevail for all. Pray for your political "enemies." Pray that you love them. Pray that all leaders, no matter their party, might govern with God's wisdom. And give thanks to God for our country in all its beauty and complexity.
2. Turn off the TV. If political ads on television are driving you up the wall, remember that nobody is making you watch except yourself. You have the power to turn it off. Go outside, read a book, make a healthy meal, relax. Are Sunday morning talk shows making your blood boil? Go to church instead.
3. Remember politicians are public servants, God's children, so don't dehumanize them. Why is the approval rating of the entire Congress generally much lower than approval rating of individual members? In part, because we imagine all politicians are bad except those few we know. The vast majority of our leaders are mighty fine folk. Sure, they're persons with flaws like all of us, but they seek to serve the greater good within an imperfect system. They're not "talking heads," but whole people.
4. Give back. Tired of watching politicians wax eloquent on how to make our communities better, but then fail to do so? Well, give it a try yourself. Volunteer with a non-profit. Serve your neighbors at a homeless shelter. Tutor a struggling student. Stop complaining and start serving. (Or, gasp, run for office yourself.)
5. Vote. It seems obvious, but the turnout rates for recent primaries in home state of Minnesota were dismal. One clear way we can respond to God's generous gifts to us is to vote. Voting is our responsibility -- to God and to our community. Get informed.
6. Be kind ... yes, even on Facebook. Go figure, but it turns out Facebook status updates and comment feeds are not the ideal place to argue nuanced political points. Diana Butler Bass recently tweeted that "civility is the new counter-culturalism." Posting a political photo with a snarky comment may feel good for a time, but it certainly does not raise the level of conversation. Don't stoop to Facebook fights. It's hard, but it's for the greater good.
7. Have a difficult conversation in person. The New Testament includes story after story of Christ's followers disagreeing with one another, but being called to love each other and be unified in the midst of their diversity. So, go for it: be honest with your neighbor, your family member, your church friend with whom you don't see eye to eye. Claim it and talk through it. In person. Don't immediately move to convince them to change their mind, but instead try to foster mutual understanding and, even, respect.
We still have 80 days until the election. We're called to make the most of them.
Cross-posted from A Wee Blether.