My own greatest long-term concerns are environmental. But another concern that gets me down is the dysfunction in our political system. These two combine in a perfect storm. On one hand, the problems require truly visionary thinking, cooperation among virtually all people, and a willingness to make sacrifices for the common good. On the other hand, we have political leaders who think only of their short-term political interests, who routinely appeal to the lowest common denominator, and who encourage us to consider only what will benefit each of us individually. That combination truly does make the problems insoluble.
Unfortunately, we get the political leadership we deserve. No doubt the system is rigged in some important ways. But the fact is, the political winners hold office because people support them with money and votes. If a majority of the American people really wanted honest, idealistic, visionary leadership, we would recruit people like that to run for office, and we would support their campaigns.
My new resolution is not to give in to the cynicism and disillusionment that seems so rampant and is so tempting. In the Old Testament reading for next week (Habakkuk 2:1-4), God tells Habakkuk to hold to the vision of God’s coming kingdom of peace and justice, and to “write the vision.” That, it seems to me, is the calling of every person of faith: to hold to the vision that a better future is possible, and to communicate that vision in whatever way we can.
Focusing on God’s vision will not magically give us inspiring political leaders. But if we don’t focus on God’s vision, we can be sure that we will not get the leadership we need. “Writing the vision” is what we are called to do in our daily lives, and it is what we can do, with God’s help. I intend to try.