Years ago I got a call after the Gabrielle Giffords' shooting and was asked to do a Sunday morning service at the Court House in honor of those who were shot. The interesting theme from the media who came to film the service was, this was caused by the significant on- going political conflict in our state. I however challenged this view because I knew of the mental health issues of the shooter. In a systemic view of life everyone has responsibility for their part. The complexity of the issue however was that the political conflict in my opinion did not cause the shooting but systemic tension does usually engage the more marginalized in our community and increases their pathology, including their acting out.
Within a short time several politicians apologized for being critical of opposing party members and there was an initiative to create “civility” in political discourse. So as a pastor I saw confession of sin and repentance taking place through God’s providence. As we have just experienced that repentance did not last very long.
The political climate has reached a peak and everyone I talked with has worn out their mute button trying to cut out the mud slinging that has dirtied their TV sets. This systemic evil is contributing to the deterioration of our culture and does promote evil from both sides of the aisle.
The Book of James says, “In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body (the political body in America). It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.” James 3:5-6
So what do we do as Christians when confronted by systemic evil in our culture? Are we to run and hide or react in anger or fear? Are we to be passive? God has first called us to pray. I believe we need to pray that God will forgive those perpetrating evil and bring them to repentance. Please pray for our politicians, those behind the scenes like the Democratic National Committee or the Republican National Committee or the super PACs. That they may come to a place of confession and repentance and come to know Christ or if people of faith that they submit to the King of the Kingdom of God. Some of you may feel that this list may have an enemy on it, but we are to pray for our enemies as believers. Also one leader said, “I have never met a person as evil as the system they were involved in.” We all need God’s grace to help us find our way.
Please pray for an out pouring of God’s Spirit on our country and this city. Please pray that the evil we experience will be uprooted as Christ has already defeated the devil. Thank you for praying for our political system and that God will bring healing. I’m asking that we pray for several months and then I will send another letter to do a follow up on this topic. Included is a letter written by several men directly involved in this political process.
Thank you and you can pass this on to other believers
Letter #2 by Ethan and Steve
During the 51st Arizona Legislature, we served Tucson’s 9th District at the state capitol. Ethan is a Republican. Steve is a Democrat. We shared a commitment to find ways of working together to serve the constituents we represented, despite our differing views on a range of issues.
That is the heart of what has made American democracy so resilient and admired around the world — the commitment of elected officials to find common ground across the partisan divide.
This commitment and resiliency are being sorely tested during the political season in which we find ourselves.
Our country’s hard-won freedom is under threat — by a rising tide of tribalism, demonization of those with different views and backgrounds, and political violence.
But there is a way forward. Our nation can be strengthened if we each recommit ourselves to the essential American values of empathy, welcome, and respect for ourselves and others.
Even today, what unites us as Americans is greater than what divides us.
In Arizona, our state’s greatest accomplishments were achieved when people with differing viewpoints, parties, and ideals found a way to reach beyond political differences to serve a greater good. They humanized and empathized with other people, even where they had significant differences.
Economic development, transportation, education, public safety, public health, and water policy are not partisan issues. They are central to our quality of life, regardless of our ideological underpinnings. We all benefit when our elected officials work together to assure these basic services are well-managed so that we can take them for granted.
That’s why Democrats Carl Hayden and Mo Udall united with Republicans Barry Goldwater and Paul Fannin to support and build the Central Arizona Project, without which we would be in economic and existential crisis today. These leaders disagreed on many issues but they all wanted to make Arizona a better place.
Our founders have blessed us with freedom and democracy and a way of life that is fragile and must be protected. To be a part of the American experiment is a rare privilege and our cherished freedoms must be earned by every generation, not only with battles against external enemies but by building internal cohesion that is more powerful than the seduction of petty tribalism that sets us against each other.
There is no one correct answer for how society can progress, whether from the left or the right. Anyone who believes this is toying with the corrosive and essentially un-American forces of autocracy. Mutual understanding of differing views is the central tool that allows us to make our way forward. Together.
Now that the 2018 elections are over, we must focus on fostering unity amongst all our citizens, regardless of political beliefs and backgrounds. Whoever you are, wherever you came from, however you voted, and whatever brought you to those votes, we are all Americans.
We are bound together by our belief that tomorrow will be a better place than today, a respect for our Constitution to settle our disputes, and a deep understanding that America can still be that shining city on a hill, an inspiration for all those who seek life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
We hope you will join us.