With political campaigns in hot pursuit of a victory tomorrow, we have already heard a plethora of promises that seem to stretch the limits of veracity. Some pollsters say that the deciding factor in this year’s presidential campaign is trust. Unfortunately, since negative ads and truth-o-meters are NEVER unbiased, this year’s campaign has been relegated to a shallow-minded popularity contest mixed with a smattering of empirical data. Daily tracking polls are so skewed in my mind that they aren’t believable at all.
They are about as reliable as the college football polls. Who do you believe? Gosh, in my neighborhood there are signs for “Beth” or “Joan” galore. I have been robo-called way past annoyance. On Election Eve, I unenviably feel like Pontius Pilate asking Jesus, “What is truth?” Personality is what’s left to go on when you can’t perceive the truth of what someone says. With some of the local contests I don’t even know their personalities so I ask my neighbors and hope that they know something tangible! What a terribly vulnerable position to be in. Spin-doctors tell us what they think we want to hear, and we’re gullible enough to buy it. Perception, unfortunately, often outweighs substance.
Poor voter turnout underscores our distrust of the political process. Knowing how to trust and whom to trust are issues that haunt our lives from the political realm to the person in the mirror. Questions of integrity affect our relationships at work, school, and home. In the midst of this climate of distrust, however, a bigger question looms: “What is lonelier than distrust?” Christian community and the imago dei in all of us demands that we live and work in an interdependent society. If we are made in God’s image and God lives in the Community that we call Trinity, then we better get our act together and work for the common good. With Hurricane Sandy relief and the shadow of a year-end fiscal cliff, we must lay aside partisan differences and put others before self!
So whom do you believe? Have you made up your mind? I know some people who can spot gold-diggers from a mile away. They are also pretty cynical and judgmental. I should know because I’m one of them. To go through life trusting everyone goes against the grain of my natural skepticism. I have been burned too many times to let my guard down. At the same time, however, I wish that I could return to the innocence of childhood. Better yet, I want to be at that place where Blaise Pascal says, “We arrive at the truth not by reason alone, but also by the heart.”
Getting my head and heart together is a difficult task, but this synchronization is the essence of why we have religion, and one of the hopes that I have for politics. The mental ability to discern the truth and the heartfelt innocence to believe that truth is possible is perhaps one of the most beneficial products of faith. Doubt, scientific inquiry, and study combine with faith to evaluate the substance of truth. Shucks, this is the essence of a good political process, too! The 18-inch connection between head and heart will determine who I vote for tomorrow.
An example of not putting one’s head and heart together to find the truth is found in a story about Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was trying to make a point. His hearer was unconvinced and stubborn. So Lincoln tried another tactic. He said to his opponent, “Well, let’s see now. How many legs does a cow have?” The disgusted reply came back, “Four, of course.” Lincoln agreed, “That’s right. Now, suppose you call the cow’s tail a leg; how many legs would the cow have?” The opponent replied confidently, “Why, five, of course.” Lincoln came back, “Now that’s where you’re wrong. Calling a cow’s tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg!”
Your heart saying something is truth without your rational mind verifying it is the basis of most cults. So, where do we turn for a balanced approach in our search for truth? How do I get to this kind of synchronization before tomorrow? The answer isn’t in political pundits or switching back and forth between CNN and Fox. Our source of truth as Christians isn’t even the candidates themselves, however sincere they might me. The answer is Jesus Christ! He claimed of himself, “I am the Truth,” which is saying a lot more than, “I’m telling the truth!” or “He/She is lying!” Only in Christ can we find the whole truth, and avoid the seductive power of half-truths. God bless us all tomorrow, and may God’s truth prevail! Like the test for prophets, one strike and you’re out, we really won’t know the truth of God’s preferred future until long after Election Day. Until then we need to work with whomever is elected to make the best of everything for everybody. That’s, afterall, what God does with us!