Why the World Will Not End Next Wednesday
There may be reasons why the world could end next Wednesday, but the elections do not rank among them. I was thinking about all the rhetoric that we have had to suffer through for so long, and about the national and local elections from a perspective of faith, and here are some thoughts to ponder:
First, the world will not end if your candidate does not win. While the elections are important, they are not ultimate. Put as much hope in the outcome as you need to, but no more. Most of us are jaded about the political process both here and elsewhere. We need to overcome that sentiment rather than cave in to it. Putting the elections in penultimate perspective helps you do that. When St John Chrysostom was asked what he would do if the world were to end tomorrow, he said he would plant an orchard. None of us knows the end of the world, and it surely will not revolve around our elections. So vote and then plant your orchard.
Second, the United States of America will not end if your candidate does not win. We are not going to hell in a hand basket or any other conveyance. You won’t have to leave the country if X does not win or if Y does win. We have a history of surviving political disasters and political successes with a great deal of verve and commitment. We are, as a nation, resilient in the face of trials and reserved in the face of achievements.
Third, we will not suddenly become either a Socialist or a Fascist nation dependent on the outcome of the elections. You have heard the rhetoric both ways. Let’s quit such smears and cheap shots so we can approach the elections calmly. If you are really concerned about such things, it behooves you to actually study socialism and fascism to discover what they were as philosophies, and how they were manifested historically.
Fourth, even if your candidates win we will wake up the next day with the same problems and the same resources to solve them. Only the applications will change, and probably not much, given the checks and balances in our system of government. You will still have to pay attention and be involved at some level of commitment yourself if the issues of our society are to be addressed. Which leads me to say, finally, that no government, much less any politician, is going to be our savior. Ever. We Orthodox sing every Sunday, “Put not your hope in princes, in sons of men in who there is no salvation.” So don’t put that much hope and faith in the process because you will be disappointed. You know what happens to disappointed idealists: they become dejected cynics, which a percentage of our populace has become.
Faith leads us to see all things “from the viewpoint of eternity.” If you take this long view, then things fall into their proper relationship to each other. Faith also understands that no perfection is possible in this life, though of course we strive for improvement. We are called to glue the pieces of this broken world back together, one at a time. But we also remember that we are broken people: everybody disappoints somebody sometime (to paraphrase Dean Martin). Ultimately, God is in charge of the show from beginning to end. Have faith that it is God who will draw the curtain at the end, not our election outcome. None of us has that much power or authority.
So go out and vote, but know that the future is ultimately in God’s hands.
published 02 Nov 2012