I’m proud to be an American and feel so blessed to have the privilege of living in a democratic country, however, when election time rolls around and the candidates begin mud slinging at opposing parties, I want to duck and cover. I’m embarrassed for them. Often the debates appear to be nothing more than playground squabbles. As a responsible individual who votes in every election, whether local, state or national, I want to know what the candidates intend to do – not what they don’t like about opposing candidates.
Many of the candidates claim to have religious affiliations, yet their behaviors do not reflect any knowledge of spiritual or ethical values. Is there a spiritual way to reconcile these behaviors so I don’t have to feel conflicted every time there is an election?
Proud to be an American (Most of the time)
Dear Proud American,
I, too, am proud to be an American most of the time but find the use of scathing rhetoric by opposing candidates very troubling at best and disgusting at worst. So what can we do to avoid a loss of faith in the process?
One possibility is to avoid listening to political speeches by or about candidates and instead review accounts of their positions compiled by unbiased organizations such as the League of Women Voters. We won’t get a personal view of the candidates, but we may avoid feeling that we need to take a shower after listening to them.
Another thing that might help is to refuse to vote for anyone who engages in the kinds of behavior you describe and to support those who exhibit the spiritual and ethical values we espouse. Although that will seriously narrow the field of contenders, we can feel that we have voted with our principles intact.
A third thing that we can do is to support the candidates who have campaigns that reflect the best in our country through our verbal and financial contributions. If enough of us do that, those who don’t conduct themselves by such standards may find it is more beneficial for them to engage in positive and informative messaging. As people who support high moral and spiritual values in our elected officials, we have a duty to see that our voices are heard above the din of seemingly mean-spirited and negative campaigning. And I hope that those of us who are committed to the democratic process will be able to bring about a sea-change in political campaigning so everyone can vote with a sense of assurance of the best possible outcome.
Thanks so much for sharing your concerns and your patriotic desire for a more high-minded approach to our election process.
Rev. Dr. Betty Stapleford, Unitarian Universalist Church of the Verdugo Hills La Crescenta
Dear Proud American,
As Americans, we are given many choices in a democracy. Our everyday choices make up every moment of our lives! You are making choices all day, every day. And not making a choice is also a choice.
What would dictate those choices? It is who and what you think you are, and who and what you choose to be. This dictates all choice – every choice you have made in your life and will ever make.
Ask yourself: What are the facts about the candidates, looking very carefully beyond the hype until you feel you know as much as possible about each one of them.
Ask yourself if you can accept the known and unknown facts about the candidates. Listen carefully to speeches, formal and informal; you may or may not eventually get a gut feeling that you can trust. You can then vote or not vote for specific candidates.
Don’t be surprised if you have difficulty making up your mind/gut feeling, forgive yourself for having to make a difficult decision. Pray about your choices!
Then vote/choose because you have done everything you can to be discerning voter.
To live your life without expectation – without the need for specific results – that is freedom. Do not be attached to results. That is Godliness. That is how I live.
Recently on the evening news, there were two separate reports of animal abuse involving horses. One was a single horse that was literally a “bag of bones” that had been left tied up beside a country road with no food or water, and the other 16 taken from a ranch by County Animal Control were also thin and malnourished. What does the Bible have to say about treatment of animals? These incidents make me so sad. I have a difficult time understanding how people can treat animals this way. How does one have peace of mind when things like this seem to be happening more and more often?
Dear Animal Lover,
I knew somebody who relocated in a hurry and they left their cat behind. They shouldn’t have animals and neither should that horse neglecter. I despise such behavior and I’m not vegetarian, but I recognize that when utilizing creatures God made, He vigilantly watches.
One of my parishioners this week is hunting, but he’s humane and the animal he obtains won’t starve for overpopulation, but will serve its purpose of man’s sustenance. As for rooster and dogfight enthusiasts or shops that let their turtles die from neglect (like I saw one defunct Arcadia pet store do), there is a reckoning. God says, “Every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills” (Psa 50:10). God is aware of circumstances and everything is his concern.
What we have to accept is that until Jesus returns, horses starve, hoarders collect cats and baby chicks will be given to children that will stomp them. It’s our fallen world – understand that. This isn’t heaven; be ready for that! Death isn’t the end and we’re only responsible for the good we can do now.
The Bible asks, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father… So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Mat 10:29, 31 NIV).
Feel for animals, but glorify more so the God who created them and made you particularly in his image to feel what you feel.
Rev. Bryan Griem, Montrose Community Church
Dear Animal Lover,
Throughout the Bible much is said about God’s expectation of humans to honor and care for all animals in practical and loving ways. In Proverbs 27:23 God says, “Be sure you know the condition of your flocks; give careful attention to your herds.”
It is very sad when animal abuse of any kind happens and very difficult to understand. In the same respect, it is very challenging to understand how humans can abuse each other and why that even happens. When these incidents occur, the “gift” is that people rally around and fight for the rights of the abused, animals and humans, which helps bring more awareness to the situation. The law of cause and effect, also known as karma, will reward accordingly the consciousness of the “wrong doer” by their actions against another. It is our responsibility to see the higher good and to pray for peace and love in the situation.
We are all in this great story of life together, and as we work together to raise higher the consciousness of goodness and love, the shift will happen and there will be greater peace and love on earth. My suggestion is to pray for peace of mind and love and kindness for everyone involved.
Laney Clevenger-White, Religious Science Practitioner
Center for Spiritual Living-La Crescenta