"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves." --Rainer Maria Rilke (©julenisse/Fotolia)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Confessions of a One-Time Politico

"I wish I could quit you!"

You know when you reach that point in a relationship where it’s just not fun anymore? Where your nausea and racing pulse aren’t because you’re love sick, but heartsick? That’s where I am, dear politics, my old friend. I can stomach the abuse no longer.

I will fondly remember the old days when the worst thing anyone did was steal a yard sign, and negative ads were risky and frowned upon. No more. The campaigns themselves are bad enough, but the splinter groups which claim lies as truth, and fiction as fact, are like out of control adolescents—impulsive, dodgy, polarizing and non-apologetic. The difference? There’s no growing out of it. Nasty videos and spiteful blogs ignite on the web faster than a California brushfire.

When friends can’t discuss candidates or issues without anger, judgment and hurt feelings, something is definitely wrong. Some say, “It’s just politics; don’t take it personally.” But you know what? I’m a person and that’s how I take things. It’s not “just” politics, especially if it’s UNJUST.  If a party or candidate favors a social policy that discriminates against certain members of my family… or prevents me or my sisters or my daughter or my son’s girlfriend from making personal choices about our own bodies… then you bet it’s personal.

Yesterday, not only my politics, but my faith, were attacked by someone with whom I did not agree. Perhaps I should have taken the high road and simply deleted the email, but I didn't want her to think I agreed with or approved of what she sent. 

“I thought you were a ‘true’ believer,” she said.

Wow. Did she seriously judge my belief in God because I asked her not to send me hateful, fear-mongering, extremist videos? (Videos which ostensibly speak on behalf of the world’s largest Christian denomination but, in fact, do not.) Well, my oh my. Whatever happened to “judge not, lest ye be judged?” 

It helps that a week ago I made a radical decision. After a semi-sleepless, tossy-turny night, I decided that between now and election day, I would pray for Barack, Joe, Mitt and Paul by name each day. In that prayer I ask that God’s will be done in them, that they are protected from harm, and for my own knowledge that He loves each of them equally.

This is not evidence of virtue or altruism, by any means. It is a blatantly selfish move to regain some balance, perspective and serenity before my brain explodes and my heart breaks in two. Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who curse you.” (Matthew 5:44) The 12 Step tradition suggests we pray for the people on our “resentment list.” And if we can’t bring ourselves to pray for them, we ask for the willingness to do so.

One day, maybe I’ll have to account for my beliefs and behavior, but it won’t be through e-mail nasty-grams, Facebook postings or Tweets. It will be face to face with my maker and, if He tells me I was wrong about my stand on various issues, I hope He’ll be able to say, “At least you were nice about it.” 


  1. Austin Ruse12:30 PM

    Mary, Your self-regard is simply breathtaking and while I am not your maker, you should consider that even this post is not even particularly nice. You believe that those who disagree with you on political issues are hateful, fear-mongering and extremist. Where is the love, Mary?

  2. Nope. Not what I said at all, old friend. I said someone sent me a video that was hateful, fear-mongering and extremist--entirely different than affixing those adjectives to a person with whom I disagree. I disagree politically with plenty of lovely people. Interesting that's what you zeroed in on and, even then, distorted it.


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