Political Pandering, Individualism, And Community

Adam made an interesting comment about how a coming recession would provide unique opportunities for blessing others and the Kingdom of God to show through.  It really got me thinking about how much truth is in that comment when we remember that much of the New Testament was written to communities in exactly that situation.  They were facing dire economic situations and circumstances and Paul called them to care for each other and come together in unity.  The book of James is a great example of this as community and care amongst believers was not a small group sign up type of thing, but we must in order to survive type of thing.

Being that the Kingdom of God is routinely paradoxical, it would make perfect sense for God to use something like financial calamity for the good of those who love him.  If we would listen to our developing world brothers and sisters we would understand that God has been doing that for centuries.  Some of God’s greatest gifts and blessings are often those that are forced upon us, through circumstances we would not on our own choose.  Yet even as I type this and think about how a severe recession would have many communal blessing, I bristle at the idea. Why?

Well just like most Americans I am an individualist.  I want to do my own thing.  And at the core of the matter being reliant on others is a scary and foreign idea to me.  I think most Americans feel this way and that is why when panic sets in, or our needs seem to be in danger of not being met, we look to the government to make it better.  The government is better to be reliant on because its impersonal, not like community where there is true vulnerability in admitting need and weakness.  That is much more personal.  I am already hearing rumblings of a SECOND stimulus check possibly in the works.  In addition, all that I have heard both McCain and Obama talk about is how they will make people’s lives better.  How different this is then the clarion call of JFK, instructing us “to not ask what our country could do for us, but what we could do for our country.”  We have strayed into deep individualism and the consequences are that we now view government as having the sole responsibility of maintaining that.

Now I know there are serious issues going on that deeply effect people’s lives, and they are thinking about how they can take care of their family and make their house payment, I really don’t want to make light of that.  My point is simply that all the political discourse we now have is centered around what is best for people right now.  There is no discussion about the long term good of the nation, or the generations to come.  Nope politicians have become functional saviors/Santa’s that we go to their rallies and metaphorically sit on their lap, and tell them what we want.  And if they do not deliver, well than “he’s not my President.”



3 Responses

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more. I truly hope that this is a time where we can begin to meet the needs of others, and have our needs met by others. This will foster humility, and begin to slowly tear down our individualistic/prideful attitudes.
    I also agree that we have become WAY too dependent on the government to “bail us out” of things that we got ourselves into (banks, individuals, etc.) which is not primary function or role. Well, i take that back…the government is supposed to be servant to the people…it would seem as if there are some hidden motives/agendas going on behind the scenes. We don’t need our politicians creating fake money out of thin air, and handing it to us to dumb us down even more by distracting us with more ability to feed our materialistic/individualistic cravings. (To “stimulate” our economy by manipulating interest rates and printing more worthless pieces of paper that are not backed by anything sound) We need to take responsibility for what we got ourselves into, and someone in office who will get our economy back on track. (Sound money, backed by….gold? Sound Credit, not dependence on credit, etc.)

  2. Thanks Aaron for the thoughtful comment. It is guys like you who I think will serve the kingdom well if we are to see a “forced community” reality come to fruition due to economic hardship.

  3. Beautifully written, Ryan. I would add that we have become isolated individualists, as opposed to individuals who are given full expression within the context of the community that loves them/is loved by them. The first seeks “self-expression”, whatever that means. The second seeks the constraints that draw forth the true self.

    Marriage is a good example of the second. Someone should write some verses about that idea.

    “politicians have become functional saviors”

    So astute as to be proverb-worthy. It has officially entered and shaped my thinking.

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