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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Standing guard with the losers: 2016 politics near and far

When we were trying to decide whether to start work during a doctor's strike at Naivasha's big public hospital almost two weeks ago, an image came persistently to mind from a popular novel series that describes a fantasy world that roughly parallels medieval history (sidebar, you can judge me for reading this stuff because I agree that there are unsavory and explicit sections I could do without, but there is also a lot of that in real life and the bulk of the books are quite good).  In the series, while various would-be lords and kings vie for power, a smaller group of pardoned criminals and illegitimate sons live in a sort of monastic military exile on the northern border, manning a massive wall that keeps truly evil creatures out of the realms of men.  This brotherhood of exiles and outcasts refuses to take sides in the machinations of politics to their south that pit one family against another, because their mission is to keep all of humanity safe from unspeakable dangers to the north.  As we prayed and pondered what to do, I found the image of this wall and the lonely people who form the protective barrier between external evil and often-oblivious humanity somehow comforting.  I could see our purpose to tend the sick and perhaps shine a little light for those suffering and in need as an act that removed us from taking sides in the grievances between doctors who felt ill-used by delayed or undesirable salaries, and lack of opportunity for promotion, and the local government who felt unable to meet their demands.

I think the analogy holds, because we were able to slowly start, quietly, working.  Pitching in to hopefully revive a baby here or make a diagnosis there or adjust a treatment over there.  Listening and learning and suggesting and teaching.  Perhaps we don't know how our colleagues really feel, but it seems that we were given a pass as members of the exile brotherhood, guarding the wall.  As in most places, cultural control exerts itself by fear, so the young doctors around us felt they faced a lifetime of repercussion if they broke ranks with the strike, but we as missionaries could stand apart from that.

Fast forward to the next weekend, when politics in America exploded.  Monday morning, one of my interns wasn't listening on rounds, because even here in Kenya they are gawking at the news coverage of our tawdry election, reading the transcripts on their smart phones.  Now it's our own birth culture down in the muck.  I've written earlier this year with a grievous heart refuting an equilibration of Christian faith with a particular political candidate, particularly one who has consistently displayed contempt/hate/slander for immigrants, Mexicans, Muslims, the disabled, the families of enemy combatants, women, minorities, and losers in general.  So in some ways, the sudden weekend turn-around of many people of faith, seeing in real time the lack of character in the potentially most powerful leader in the world causing them to jump of the make-us-great bandwagon, has been a relief.

But the process of so many finally calling out that the emperor has no clothes has also been sad, confusing, and hard to process.  If it's happening in America, are we still one-step-removed on that border between evil and humanity, or can we jump into the fray?  Jesus said His Kingdom was not of this world, but He also didn't mince words when it came to the powerful abusing their position.  So allow a few thoughts on why this week's revelations and the shift in evangelical opinion have been so heartbreaking.  First, because it took so long and revealed just how vulnerable we Christians are to promises of power, how willing to overlook 95% of everything the Gospel stands for as we nearly sold our very souls to win earthly power.  Second, though, because in spite of everything, I do feel the pain of the faithful remnant for whom the entire question is the lives of well over half a million babies who are aborted annually.  For those who are swallowing the double pain of not only shocking disappointment with the election choices, but also dwindling hope to protect those children, I am so sorry.

For those, I say, come to the icy wall of misfits and pardoned sinners with us to stand guard.  Serve a bigger goal of living a life that is a witness to a cosmic battle of good and evil, healing and death.  Speak out against harm to the most vulnerable fetuses, then stand in the gap for the many more millions of infants who are born into poverty.  Let's not pin our hopes on either very tarnished candidate, especially the one whose habitual self-serving mistruths make the chances of a pro-life impact vanishingly slim.  Let's not trust someone who brags about breaking most of the ten commandments to turn around and force them upon a diverse and dissonant public.  Instead let us by holy love, consistent ethics, sacrificial service, and quiet integrity take the harder but surer road of Jesus.  Who fed and healed and loved individual after individual into a newness of perspective that seeped out to change the world.  When Christians do what they do best, protecting the stranger, feeding the hungry, loving their neighbor, speaking the truth, then the world will start to be curious and become open to listening to us speak for the unborn.

We're huddling on the wall of ice, with one eye to the next incursion of evil we must resist to protect our world, and another to the vying for the temporary powers of humans that can make life a little better or a little worse.  Whichever you're called to focus on, let's take heart that in the end, all shall be well.

1 comment:

Charles Woernle said...

Maneno ya ukweli. Asante.