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Sunday, February 5, 2023

LibSpeak: Let the games begin

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Musings from a pastor, a mother and lifelong North Carolinian willing to speak her mind.

By Lib Campbell

Not talking reindeer games here. Talking about the political gamesmanship already beginning in the congress. Most of the rhetoric of revenge and retribution is coming from one man and one political party. For any of us who hoped the 2020 election would end the reign of the orange king, boy were we wrong. 

After the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, we hoped things would – in the face of home-grown terrorism – begin to set the course for calm. Wrong again. Freedom Caucus members and MAGA Republicans in congress are chomping at the bit to seek revenge on the Democrats, especially the Bidens. 

I think to myself, and I am apparently wrong about this too, that people who run for elected office are doing so because they want to serve. Public service is, or should be, a noble cause. The nobility comes as people offer themselves as stewards of the Constitution. Governing is hard work that many of our elected people have given up for the power game that bewitches even the best of us. It appears our representatives care more for their own interests than they do for the interests of the American people. Many are willing to overthrow the Constitution just to control the gavel.

I attended Girl’s State in 1963. A project of the American Legion, it was a week of immersion into the workings of government, parliamentary procedure, and elections. A mock government was formed among us and we practiced a process that seems to be in jeopardy now. While neither political party can always claim the high road, the Republican Party seems capable of taking us lower and lower. 

Nobody needs to be cawing over whatever victory they perceive in the recent election. It is a little like what has gone on in the United Methodist Church. Decisions have been made on very slim margins, decisions that wholesale disenfranchise almost half of a congregation. A few votes, a few seats do not make a slam dunk victory.

When jobs in public service meet hubris, the service part of the work goes away. Boots are licked to sway people to our side. Souls are sold for a few atta-boys more. Faustian bargains rarely bring more than temporary gain. After all the games, we do have to live in our own skin. Unless we become so hardened, so grieved, so angry, there may come a day of remorse. Playing these games every two, four, or six years may shift the board, but is rarely creates a stability that will move us forward toward the more perfect union once envisioned. 

We seem content with this status quo, like little babies in dirty diapers. Why would we not want to clean up our act and get on with living the full potential of this amazing country and this incredible state we call home. 

The Advent Season in the church is a time of preparation for the Light to come into the world. It is a time of introspection and self-reckoning. Nobody is going to find peace on earth if revenge, retribution, and retaliation are our go-to strategies. The Old Testament teaches about a time when the lion will lie down with the lamb and swords will be turned into plowshares. Such a vision inspires hope that all will be well. 

When we lived in Elizabeth City, we had a pastor who told a story about WWI soldiers on the battlefield in France. In the trenches on one side were the Allied Forces – the French, British and Belgian soldiers. On the other side in trenches were German soldiers. It was Christmas Eve 1914. The Germans began singing Silent Night. Before they knew it, the Allies were singing too. For the length of one night, guns were lowered, coffee was shared, soccer was played. Peace rang out. All was calm; all was quiet. The Christmas Truce of 1914 is the story of what happens when “men on the ground are not fighting the same war as their superiors are fighting.” My heart and faith still allow for hope in the face of all that is cruel and mean-spirited. Is rallying goodness really that hard? 

Lib Campbell is a retired Methodist pastor, retreat leader and hosts the website: avirtualchurch.com. She welcomes comments at [email protected]

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