Soapy Politics

Can you taste the elections yet? Yes, they\’re upon us and I, for one, will be glad when they are over. The media is over the top in their coverage. Once in a while I watch CNN or catch glimpses online of articles and headlines and I wonder at how sensationalized everything is. Entering the political foray has to feel a lot like entering a soap opera, with alternating characters and their crisis of the moment taking center stage. High drama staged as reality, as how things should be, how things are, with little or no substance. I grew up in a home where we watched soaps religiously (All My Children and General Hospital mostly). These emotional roller coaster shows formed, during impressionable years, my idea of how life should be lived. (Thankfully, this soap mentality is no longer present personally). \”If you don\’t have a crisis, create one, for heaven\’s sake!\” \”You\’re not living if you\’re not trying to manipulate or control or rescue or if you\’re not falling in love, are in love or falling out of love.\” No doubt soaps nowadays have gone to new heights and are even more outlandish than they were 30 years ago, for regular old 1970\’s soaps probably aren\’t dramatic enough anymore…the soap god demands more and more drama to keep people\’s attention.

Could the same be true of modern day politics? Are 1970\’s political campaigning styles seen as ho hum, old fashioned or unenlightened? I am not a poly-sci girl, so cannot begin to analyze this here. Maybe political campaigning was the same then as it is now. I don\’t know, just highly doubt it. It seems the appetite for the sensational has been heightened and is the only way to grab people\’s attention. In feeding us cotton candy hype, we live for the sugar high and never even think about eating our veggies. I\’m sure the rest of the world pauses and stares from time to time at our election news, at the sheer drama of it. Dare I posit we\’re revealing our immaturity? Could the way we approach elections reveal little more than a junior high outlook on how to get things done?

Some of us who\’ve been around awhile can see this more clearly, we\’re more objective. We realize that the media is manipulating the minds and hearts of many throughout this land and some of us even name it. The most vulnerable ones to the whole media circus are our young adults, the first or second time voters…they tend to end up being the ones who take what is given without reflecting on it. They tend to be the ones who cannot see long term consequences for actions taken, for they don\’t have life experience as a context for making decisions. They go for the glitz, the glam, the sound bites and trust the information they receive from media sources.

I listened, the other day, to a show on Speaking of Faith about America\’s founding fathers (http://speakingoffaith.publicradio.org/programs/2008/liberating_the_founders/) and their take on God and politics. A nugget stood out that put things into perspective for me: the founders were solely concerned with pleasing God and never imagined using God/the Bible for any political agenda. They quaked in their boots when the Revolutionary War\’s soldiers were behaving immorally, for they were sure God would discipline the country for the soldiers’ behavior. They viewed the God of America as similar to the way the Old Testament Israelites viewed God: He was real, He was the one they answered to, He was the One responsible for their existence and future. In the founders’ eyes, America was dependent on God for its existence and well-being. We, as Americans today, aren\’t \’there\’ are we? We see our destiny in our own hands and use God to wield rhetoric and justify stances. We\’re not really a Christian nation or even God fearing, not sure we even believe He has the power to render us impotent. \”We\’re self sufficient and quite capable, thank you. We can figure it out, we\’re Americans after all.\” Such thinking, such heart focus isn\’t Biblical, it’s heretical.

I marvel at God\’s patience with us, with our political manipulations, deceptions, slanders, hype, the way we use Him for our purposes. We\’re so very busy making our own way using our ego fueled, self-centered energies to forge ahead. The American soap opera continues and it is all about us and how we feel or what we think is best. We never look Up, except maybe when terrible tragedies happen. We never get and stay on our knees and look Up to seek His favor, to ask for His for guidance and ask the charismatic Holy Spirit to use us for His purposes. No, we enjoy, instead, looking to mere humans and media sources for what to think, what to do, how to be. We get on the roller coaster and ride, baby, ride–sometimes screaming, sometimes laughing, sometimes with our stomachs in our throats, sometimes holding on for dear life. Yep, we\’re junior high material, alright…maybe that is what God sees, maybe that is why He is so patient. Like a loving parent on the ground watching us go up and down and over and out, maybe He is just waiting for us to realize roller coasters are only fun for awhile and don\’t really go anywhere, just \’round and around. Maybe He is waiting for us to mature and see that too much cotton candy makes us sick, that soaps are exhausting and don\’t usher in real Life. Hope so, for our sake.

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