All “modest proposals” usually start with modest questions. So take this title as a sign that I’m not sure how to write about a current situation that may be vexing you and me.
The matter: The continuing anxiety I feel when confronted or assaulted by political news of the day or moment. To be specific, the ways in which otherwise thoughtful and righteous folks have yielded their moral authority to a zeitgeist that’s characterized by behaviors and attitudes that do not match Jesus’ witness or mission.
I’m not writing to excoriate our President, nor am I interested in whining about the decay of democracy, common sense or Christian morality. Instead, I’m interested in how those of us who are older-and-wiser—they sometimes go together, right?—could participate in God’s certain redemption of our present national spirit. Instead of screaming in anger about the “them’s” who are surely drawing the country down, I want to figure out how we older folks could be gentle parts of the rescue that God may have in mind.
I’ve listened to enough woes, and I’ve seen the anguish in enough pairs of eyes to know that this disquiet inside many of us could destroy our health, our spirit and our sense of ministry. I don’t want to keep frothing at the mouth or getting angry down to my core. Those actions result only in the certain effects of stress-hormones on my body, mind and spirit.
So what do you think? What are some places, roles or assets that we oldsters can tap in order to leaven this lump? Where do we still have power, relational oomph, attentive audiences—however small—where we can help turn around what seems like a national trainwreck?
Knowing the special place we have in society can be helpful. We’re Christians and so have a spiritual theology that instructs a Christ-like way of living. So perhaps our example is enough? We may interact with folks who have forsaken their faith values just enough to embrace overriding political values. How do those conversations become redemptive? Or startling, emotionally honest, attention-worthy and deeply loving?
What’s special about being older in these times? And how might those accumulated assets or gifts be what’s most needed by those who are perpetually angry or worse? What do we pray for, and what do we work toward in order to become God’s answers to others’ prayers?
My inclinations lead me to quiet, small answers. And perhaps that’s the place where we do our best work. Playing with our grandkids, asking probing/loving questions with our friends. Saying “No!” without accusing. Quieting down the anxieties, fears and other destructive emotions of anyone who comes into our presence. Adding affirmations to the ministries of pastors or politicians who have not succumbed to anger-theology. Dusting off our memories about moments of heartfelt change in our own lives. Praying with others in new ways. Refueling our spirits in Scripture’s stories and instruction. Turning social media into a means for toning down loud rhetoric. Being generous in spite of fears. Inoculating our grandkids against a war-like spirituality. Expanding our spheres of friendship and influence past the limits of church and family. Any of this make sense to you?
As I noted at the start, my purpose in proposing this idea comes from a genuine need to find some answers—showing grace instead of feeding fear. Perhaps you can gather your own modest proposals/questions and share them with me?
That would be wonderful….
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