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Bridges, October 19, 2018

LCWR - “A Crucial Midterm Pivot”, Quincy Howard, OP

One thing Americans agree on: our country has veered drastically off-course.  Failures of national systems have led to frustration, bewilderment, and distrust among the commonwealth.  Beyond that we are a deeply divided country….  We are turning on one another.

While some still cling to the idea that those in power offer that change, others are hinging that hope on the midterm election as the crucial point where change will take place.  As such, this midterm election is seen as pivotal: both the political Left and the Right sense its importance in determining what's to come.

NETWORK Lobby, LCWR, and other faith-based advocates seek federal policies that reflect gospel principles because we know that an economy and a society of inclusion depend on good policy.  As such, it's no secret that we're hoping for a power shift in Washington, DC.  However, the pivot that's needed  is about something much deeper than policy and lawmakers.  The current leadership and its policies are symptoms, not the cause, of our current crisis.  Focus at this time cannot be narrowed to incumbents, parties, swing votes, and campaigns or we risk missing what's at the root: We the People.

Jesus' parable of the new cloth on an old garment, of new wine in old wine­skins, tells us why an election cannot fix what's broken.  Meaningful change is not about "patching up" what's off­track but about embracing completely new paradigms and ways-of-engaging with each other and with the world.  Electing a new party to power within the context of a deeply broken democracy and a distrustful, alienated citizenry will not bring the transformation we need.  Our institutions and our civic discourse will continue to erode until we are prepared to soften our hearts, to prioritize the common good, to create a culture of inclusion and forgiveness.  A deeper shift will require us - individually and collectively - to take a hard look at the ways we turn against one another, judge one another and turn a blind eye to the consequences of our actions or failures to act.  It will also require meaningful engagement and forgiveness of those across the aisle.

For Christian Americans, this is where our gospel values are put to the test, and we have a responsibility to test ourselves.  Our claim of Jesus as the architype gives us a unique perspective and, hopefully, some practice in how to bridge divides.  We look to the scriptures for guidance and profess belonging to the body of Christ, and so the Gospels provide us with our template.  Individually and collectively, Christians are called to engage with our fellow Americans - particularly those we view as sinful - in a seeking, loving, forgiving manner and with the intention of reconciliation.

How can I seek out those with different political leanings and find a space to connect with them?  How can I facilitate authentic and respectful dialogue?  How might I put my fellow  citizen who is fearful and suspicious at ease?  How have I failed to acknowledge my own sinful contribution to our divided nation?

Our slogan of democratic resilience for the 2018 midterm campaign season and beyond:

Raise your words not your voice.
It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder. 
- Rumi

The entire article is attached below, or can be downloaded from LCWR.org.

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