Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Picking the President

Holly's latest blog entry on Today's Christian Woman magazine's website is now up:

My opinion on this one isn't worth fighting over.

To ponder:
1) Which ideas do you feel are worth fighting over?

2) Which ideas, in your opinion, aren't worth fighting over?

3) Which of your ideas do you invest the most time in? Does most of
your time/effort/energy go to opinions, beliefs, or convictions?

4) Do you think people should discuss their convictions often? Can someone be passionate about their convictions without discussing them with others?


Anonymous said...

Hi Holly,

First I just want you to know that I always enjoy your articles, as they're always both thought provoking and challenging.

I'm someone who puts a lot of value in communication, so when I read the main point of the last article, "Picking the President," I was a little concerned.

I'm a scientist, and do a lot of experiments where I can control every single experimental parameter, and use equations to predict the results. The interesting thing I find is that sometimes my predictions are wrong. I'll make mistakes with my equations, or in my line of thinking, or maybe I'll conduct the experiment incorrectly. I'm human. I'm not perfect by any means. Science is what I'm trained to do. I'm an expert at it, and yet I'm still wrong often enough.

What this means to me in the context of an election is this: If I can be wrong in something I know very very well (consider for example any time you might have been wrong about something in your own profession), is it possible that I can be wrong about a political opinion? I don't really know with certainty what my own mother or father or sister would do in any particular fictitious national crisis, let alone what our candidates would do. I can only guess based on what they say, pray about it, and move forward knowing that I could be wrong.

Recall that I Corinthians 13 says, "we see everything as a poor reflection, as in a mirror." We don't see the truth of everything clearly, and shouldn't pretend to.

The possibility of being wrong is unsettling for a lot of people, but it gives me the grace to communicate with my political opposites without judging them too harshly. I know in the back of my mind that there's always something that I can learn from them. As a result of this perspective, I've had some very stimulating, very pleasant conversations with a friend who holds a high level position in "the other" party's state organization.

I believe that by communicating with each other, we can revise and refine our opinions and beliefs. The flip side of this is that if we don't communicate, we'll continue to cling to opinions that are wrong (on both sides of the political isle) because those opinions are unchallenged. The key is simply that we communicate respectfully, with the attitude that we are not perfect, that we can be wrong.

Thanks so much for writing this blog and for providing a place for this kind of discussion!

-Paul (Holly's RL friend)

Holly said...

Hi Paul,

I'd agree with you 100 percent that it's good to discuss our ideas because we can be wrong. Even on something as deep as a conviction (e.g. faith beliefs), I think it's important to hear contrary beliefs, because they expose questions we need to get answered for our own growth.

That said, I'm not discussing the election because I haven't heard anything good or productive being discussed. I didn't put this in the TCW article, but I do believe most people just want to argue, to cheer for their respective "team." Discussions I've heard about the election are either full or errors and speculation, or are regurgitations from political pundits. I haven't heard anything that could be described as "productive" discussion.

I did have a couple interesting conversations with two old classmates. One was one of my buddies from a political organization (we were the hard core who went out knocking on doors, phoning, and putting up election banners). The other was the political extreme opposite of me in college; he was the president of the "other" political organization on campus.

Surprisingly, the guy from my political organization isn't voting for his party candidate. And the "opposing" guy, well, he's just pretty jaded and uninspired by his party.

And these guys are both well connected. The guy from my party has been working for the government for a dozen years, and the guy in the opposite party worked at a major newspaper in Sacramento. All three of us, who are from diverse political/spiritual backgrounds, concluded that there's little of substance to discuss in this election. Involved as we were in the past, we're all tired of party politics, and see little difference between the two parties now. But what surprised me the most was how indifferent my friends--and I--are about this election because little that's substantial is being said. (Although people are really excited and fighting about it.)

So I'm sticking to my guns on this one, Paul. I think there are great conversations to be had about the morality of war (are we involved in a "just" war?), personal debt that individuals have racked up (my opinion is that if people can't pay off a credit card within a year, lenders shouldn't issue more cards), how we could save lives if we got behind projects that send out mosquito nets and anti-malaria meds (I'd actually be in favor of either mandatory charitable giving in the U.S., or serious tax cuts for people who give any amount to charities). We could discuss, "How do we attract and retain high-quality teachers at inner-city schools?" (how do we pay them more AND keep them safe?)and "How can we make recycling so appealing that everyone will do it?" (celebrity campaign, perhaps). Even, "Are the Republican and Democratic parties responding to their constituents? What can we do to get them to discuss the real issues?" (there's got to be a deeper answer than just, 'vote for the other party').

I think there are plenty of good discussion topics that might effect a potentially positive outcome. But the prez election, I haven't heard anything of substance that will change (ha ha--change!) anything. So I'm takin' a stand and waiting for real conversations.

Your thoughts?

Anonymous said...

Hi Holly!
I liked your post. When I read the headline, I wondered what you would say. I have heard from both sides of the "aisle" about this election--and I think you're right-many people have their minds made up and are just arguing talking points. Although I do plan to vote, I have started to feel that people place too much emphasis on how America will be saved or not saved depending on whom we elect as president. I don't really feel that's true. More and more I feel that what made the first Christians so successful is not that they espoused getting the "right" people in government office, but in making a difference in people's lives--sometimes one at a time. I think we could do more to change the whole abortion, gay marriage, and other issues if we worked more to help bring about change in people's hearts. That's just my opinion :)
Take care!