Thursday, August 7, 2008
TO VOTE, OR NOT TO VOTE == THAT IS NOT THE QUESTION
Every week at ParishWorld.net we have a Burning Question for all of you readers. We do go to some lengths to make these questions relevant to the meaning of what it is to be a real disciple of Jesus Christ. This week, we were the ones who got the Burning Question, not in the public forum, but in the form of a personal e-mail to the publisher. We therefore offer you, the readers of ParishWorld.net, the considered opinion of our publisher on the topic, "To Vote or NOT to Vote."
Some of you may remember that some months ago during the primary season there were a lot of comments about whether or not Catholics could vote for a "pro-choice" candidate. Do you remember that discussion? There was even some space dedicated to it here. The topic comes up again, briefly in the following exchange, but it doesn't swallow the discussion.
As the theology editor for this publication I am comfortable with the ideas thrown before you in this presentation by the publisher. If it means anything to the publisher's friend, I have to say that I am in accord with the spiritual position of Mr. Arida on this topic.
All of you, Edgar included, must feel free to make your comments about this question. We ask you to keep them objective and to make them polite.
So, let's follow this opinion about voting that was stated in response to a position that was, in paraphrase, I can't find a candidate who holds my moral views, so I am not going to vote. Were I to vote, should I vote against candidates instead of abstaining?
My Election Advice to a Friend - round 1
I would like to share with you an email I sent in response to a question by a friend.
Not voting is always a choice you can make over making the wrong vote. So a revenge-vote for or against any candidate is never a good thing. If you can't make up your mind, sit this one out.
That being said, let me point out that elections are not all about politics and economics. It's also about what you believe your heart tells you about our God. For once, consider making this election about your Christian faith and which candidate you feel can best exemplify what we as Catholics really stand for. For once, look at this election from the point of view of our faith. Life is not the only God issue during these elections but it is the key issue – respect of Life from conception to death. Ask yourself which candidate will best bring forward the Kingdom of God in our United States for the next four years. This will change the way you will look upon this election. For in the end, what is good for the Lord is good for His people.
As you ponder this, don't ask yourself what Jesus would do. Ask yourself, what Jesus would want you to do. Try to come to grips with yourself with this with your conscience as your guide and see how this whole election process can take on a whole new perspective. I encourage you to cast your vote. For once, let's put our trust in the Lord regarding this one.
I hope this helps.
Keep the Faith. Peace.
Publisher & Editor in chief
It is evident here that the one driving issue was abortion. Respect for life. OK, as the theology editor, I buy the concept that this is a fundamental Catholic moral issue. After all, God spared Cain's life didn't He? But there is more to it than that. In the United States we think nothing of having a capital punishment law in our culture. We think nothing of holding people captive even without any definitive proof that they have committed a crime. We think nothing of sending work off-shore so that we can get the results at a lower price at the cost of the welfare of our very own community. We think nothing of permitting automotive companies to enslave us to an oil-based fleet of vehicles rather than to force them to apply technologies that have been available for years to spare us from the monopoly of oil. We think nothing of a government that passes laws and then does not expend any effort in the enforcement of them. Talk about "Cafeteria Catholics"...we are in a country supposedly founded on the "rule of law" yet we vote people into office who scoff at the very concept. We think nothing of having the prescription drug companies lobby our legislators into enacting laws that are detrimental to our ever being able to institute a universal health care system. Yes, we are a "Cafeteria law enforcement country".
For those of you who think that this is new. Please consider this:
The prophet Amos who preached 800 years before the coming of Jesus decried the government's treatment of prisoners. What was happening? The prisoners were being released
into slavery to third person countries (The common allies of the Israelites against the enemy defeated by the Israelites.) Is there a relationship there between us and the the prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay? How about the prophet Jeremiah who raled at the practice of Child sacrifice in the Valley of Hinnom at the foot of Mount Moriah, the high point of Jerusalem? There is never a single issue election. There are many more examples in the Bible, but I won't take up the publisher's space! We Catholics have to vote according to our conscience, formed as it is by the revelation of the Lord Our God given to us through the pronouncements of Sacred Scripture and of our Holy Mother the Church.
Now, let us look at round 2
If you base your vote on what your conscience tells you, works only in theory, try to listen to a democrat or a republican candidate will flip flop, depends on the polls, for example, abortion. Democrats tend to favor abortion, but on the other hand consider also the carnage created by war, and the lies that railroad us to what we have now, a job well done..morally, what will you consider less evil? It just boils down to; we need more oil to fuel our SUV's and blame the whole world for everything that ails us..
Our faith and belief in God and what is right is not - as you put it – theoretical. It is a way of life, a choice we make. Our Christian lives and the way we live them are never perfect, they never were, they never will be. No one among us is perfect. But we try – all of us do – and we try hard. Because in the end we are judged – and this, my friend, is not theoretical - on how we live our lives according to His will. Have faith, Edgar. God will make all things right in the end. He always does. All He asks is we put our trust in His will.
Think this election over clearly and consciously. Look into your heart and really talk to Jesus. Ask him what he wants you to do. (Remember it’s not what Jesus would do but what you think Jesus would want YOU to do.) Put your Catholic faith to heart and believe that His will is the right thing for all of us.
This conversation will be between Him and you; no one else will be involved. Our whole life boils down to love for God and love for others. It boils down to love and respect for Life as God gave it. Your relationship with Jesus has always been between Him and you. And this election is no different. God’s plan for mankind and the salvation of the world was never a theoretical hypothesis. He gave all of us – you and I included – the free choice to do His will. Or we can choose not to. It is our individual choice.
Please don’t think of this as a guilt trip, Edgar. No one will know how you voted or who you voted for or for what reasons. It’s between you and Him. All I’m offering you is a different way of looking at this coming election. When the choices and issues are muddled, it’s always a good think to go back to the constant – God and his infinite love for each person, His infinite love for Life. How you discuss that with Him is between Him and you. It’s what praying is all about.
Re-think the issues from this new perspective. It could give you the answer you’re looking for. Who knows? You just might discover answers that will go way beyond this simple matter of elections at hand.
Kindest regards, my friend. God bless you and your family
Keep the Faith. Peace.
Publisher & Editor in chief
"OUR CATHOLIC FAITH -
Learn it. Live it. Share it."
That is the opinion of our publisher. We leave it to you to think about it. Upon leaving you, we remind you of this: if you vote your conscience, you will be able to defend yourself at the "city gates" (a book of psalms expression). If you play games with your conscience, you will always be wondering where the Truth can be found. So go out and vote and be forever at peace with your own seriously considered decision.
That is my final say about this. All that I can say now is, if you vote, and vote your conscience with strong, none negotiable conviction, this will comfort you to the point where you will not have the least little inclination to cry at my funeral.