Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Politics of Brokenness

A broken lens, a vision obscured. Political senses sensing that differences will always exist in the political realm. The founders of the American Republic seem to have understood this reality. They knew that we, in our broken human condition, needed to have a political and governmental structure that restrained our more base instincts of seeking power over others. But they also seem to have understood that any structure will fail if the public it's supposed to govern is itself unwilling or unable to abide by any normative standards. As broken as the American public has always been (like every other culture of course), in its early years they seemed to agree at a basic level on a common moral framework that would guide their actions. That seems no longer to be the case. It's every man, woman and child for themselves. We've entered an age of absolute certainty of our own self righteous certitude and of an equally certain sense that anyone we call "other" is our moral opposite, devoid of any sense of humanity if not humanity itself. This mindset, or rather lack of "mind" set, seems to pervade our partisan divide day and night in our political "miscourse" which sees any opposition as treasonous.

If I'm always right, and you disagree with me on any issue, then you're not only wrong, you're hateful, evil, insane, deluded, or any other term of reprobation that comes to mind. That allows me to ignore anything you might have to say or the rationale behind your reasoning to be entertained as legitimate. On the other hand if we operate from a vantage point of brokenness on our own part, acknowledging that we don't know it all, and that others who disagree may actually offer valuable insights, then a valuable cross fertilizing dialog may actually occur.

This Politics of Brokenness, I believe, is our best way forward in finding both common cause and bridging the divide between divisive differences of ideology and religious differences. Is this a Utopian dream devoid of any real world application? It isn't. We need only look back to previous examples of others who have worked from this same broken vantage point to see that it can work in the real world. Gandhi, King, Wilberforce, Day all serve as exemplars of idealists who also understood that we live in a realist world. Yet they affected transformative changes by their idealistic actions.

We must not forget that idealism can transform realism.

What will the Politics of Brokenness look like for our generation? I can promise you that it will NOT look like the old left/right divide that we've seen for several generations now. Back in the day, Jesus was confronted by his own political divide and dualistic choice; the Sadducees and the Pharisees. He rejected both as inadequate. We should do the same. The Kingdom of God transcends any Manichean politics which falsely divides the motives of us versus them.

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