I Will Not Be Voting Today
I think I may be more tired of this election than most.
It hasn’t taken much this year to finalize my decision not to vote. Between the ridiculous nature of the campaigning and the topics I’ve been studying, I have no reservations about it.
I fear that like most of my deep seeded understandings, I will be unable to fully explain myself. There is much about it that I am still working to connect in my mind, though I have no doubts of the conclusion. I know there are those out there who understand without my explanation, and those who will resent a decision like this. The former are few and far between, and in the latter I only find further proof of my dark fears about the ignored reality of humanity.
There are no political solutions to human problems. The solutions we believe we’ve found are little more than illusions. Few of us are willing to look down the road our civilization is traveling. Ahead of humanity lies exponential population growth and expansion of massively destructive weapons. For the first time ever, the twentieth century saw humanity finally invent a weapon powerful enough to exterminate itself and much life on this planet. The twentieth century was also the bloodiest century in recorded history seeing the unnatural deaths of at 150 million people according to conservative estimates.
Civilization is the building of the Tower of Babel, and it rises with every century.
The scoffers and loyal nationalists will reply that we must try to make this world better. The complicit Christians will claim Romans 8:28 or the otherwise “chess-player-sovereignty” of God but find only justification of their own actions and participation. Indeed, we must try. But how much more will it take for us to realize we are trying wrong?
When I get into political conversations, especially those including the suggestion that Jesus would favor some form of socialism or the likening of God’s Covenant commandments to some form of socialism, the ensuing reply is usually in the vein of the assumption that I want to supplant American society with something in the neighborhood of national socialism. Please spare me the broken record, the conversation is nothing new, yet still seems to be the standard capitalist reply and is usually used as dismissal rather than honest exploration of ideas.
We have a strange tendency in this celebrity-obsessed, globally-minded culture to think that the ruling by government should be universal, and that what we think of as societally right should be applied to all societies. We believe we can change the world because celebrities tell us we can and we want to believe them but where we end up is some form of ambiguous confusion of the terms and the hope that the universe will just find its way into us “fixing” it.
I claim little naivete about the movement of culture, societal norms, or governmental comfort. The idea of transposing a society such as ours into something resembling Communist Russia is as naive in the assumption that we will try as is the assumption that it can be done. Instead I ask, why must my opinions control the vast populations of others? It is a control that no doubt, were I committed to it, would require a complete selling out of the values that only work in localism. Politics inevitably fails and power inevitably corrupts because it is impersonal and imposing. If our fallenness is now a part of humanity, then it seems likely that combatting fallenness lies in questioning our cultural assumptions.
I have a post-it note attached to my monitor at work that has a large circle on it and outside the circle, a dot. Pointing to the large circle is the words “THE WORLD I THINK I MUST CHANGE”, and pointing to the dot is the phrase “THE WORLD THAT NEEDS ME.”
Trying to change the world at once will get me nowhere. Changing my world around me will change the world around it, and whatever happens beyond my world is beyond my control.
We’ve grown so accustomed to impersonal love (a contradiction) that we ignore the small world we are a part of, our community, and we try to administer solutions to those we do not know. We send money overseas, support authoritated morality, and by voting we take part in a world political system that is creating the problems we are trying to fix. We’ve found a certain comfort in anonymity, a form of love based on the systems of this world that means little compared to the true love of Christ. The love of Christ is personal and intimate, not a vote for nationally dispensed grant of welfare or legislated morality to avoid personal involvement.
So I suppose I should get back to the immediate issue of voting.
The institutions of civilization and hierarchical power (church, government, etc.) are man’s attempt to be like God. In being like God, in controlling life, in building our tower of supposedly righteous civilization, we assert ourselves and our hopes in our own feats over that of any other. We may not be aware of it, but our nationalism is as much a god as any1. As Christians we claim to build what we call the Kingdom of God, a kingdom that we envision as the reigning culture of Christianity, all the while forgetting that seldom was Christ’s fruition the same shape as those his followers expected to see.
I choose not to put nationality ahead of my God. I choose to look for the true definition and actions of love. I choose to put aside in my mind the systems and encouragements to demonize those who disagree and angelicize my own cultured opinions. I choose to search for peace in the midst of chaos instead of demanding the application of my preference. Most of the details of these choices are yet to be understood, but I do not doubt that this is where I start. The complicity of partisanship and the ignorance of enabling participation are little more than the way of the world, but it is a way of the world that its beyond my reach, and therefore my immediate concern.
Above I mentioned that we must try to make this world better. Of course, changing the world around us before the world beyond us is a revision of strategy. Rethinking our approach can be key to our effect. This attempt, for me, is non-participation in state, national, and global authoritative action. The smaller and more local a government becomes, the closer to representative of its community it gets. This attempt, for me, is to move beyond concern for the circus of politics and care for the world in front of me.
Not voting is paradoxically, a vote. But it is a lever that I do not mind pulling by default. It is a vote against a system of falsehood and corruption. It is a vote against complicity and against comfortable ignorance. In my idealism, it is a vote against the river of a cultural empire. It is a vote for my own focus, my local focus.
Love is personal. Love is local. That is where I stand.
My reasoning in an issue this big is not without holes, but is also not without my faith. I would appreciate all forms of conversation on topic.
1. “Like all religions, this religion has its own distinctive, theologized, revisionist history (for instance, the ‘manifest destiny’ doctrine whereby God destined Europeans to conquer the land). It has its own distinctive message of salvation (political freedom), its own ‘set apart’ people group (America and its allies), its own creed (‘we hold these truths to be self-evident’), its own distinctive enemies (all who resist freedom and who are against America), its own distinctive symbol (the flag), and its own distinctive god (the national deity we are ‘under,’ who favors our causes and helps us win our battles).” – Greg Boyd, Myth of a Christian Nation, 150
Subscribe to comments with RSS.