Thoughts in Solitude - Thomas Merton

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.” † † †
-Thoughts in Solitude
© Abbey of Gethsemani
"Your way of acting should be different from the world's way"...Rule of St. Benedict.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Reflections on an Election

It seems a shame how the greatest democracy in the free world conducts its presidential campaigns. In an electoral process that should lift up the most qualified candidates in an honest discussion of issues, we U.S. citizens get sniping, innuendo and half-truths. Furthermore, we actually pay for this circus with our free will or tax contributions.

One would think that the electoral process of the United States should mirror the high ideals that our democracy seeks to represent and the democracy we purport to export to
other countries.

After an almost two years of preparing for this election, it is increasingly impossible to gather impartial information on the candidates and their positions. News sources have become full-time editorial commentators. Most voters pick their news sources to reinforce their positions rather than to be informed. Undecided voters become the prizes sought after by the use of private detectives, lawyers and public relation firms who dig dirt and follow the polls as their daily devotionals.

As I have become increasingly disgusted with the whole process, I have tried to withdraw and reflect on the qualities and issues that are most important to me in a president. Then faced with less than a perfect choice, I will choose the candidate who comes closest to my ideals.

My ideals are as follows:

1) A person who is God fearing and invites a true spiritual presence into their lives and their decisions. A person who recognizes the creator and not just the created.

2) A person who has a respect for all life especially the most vulnerable including the child in the womb and the elderly person not far from the tomb. As we chose to respect life, we shift the focus away from an obsession with ourselves and onto others. Many of us have been taught that this is the golden rule to care for others. As we increasingly choose life based on convenience and self, this rule that has served our country so well in the past becomes increasingly tarnished.

3) A person who recognizes the true presence of evil in this world and a worldview that seeks to confront that evil not accommodates it. As unpleasant as it may seem in our comfortable American cities and suburbs. There are people who actually are trying to destroy our country and our way of life. The U.S. has been a beacon of hope to millions of immigrants who have made great sacrifices to come to our shores. With only five percent of the world’s population, the U.S. provides more than generous help and aid to the rest of the world and not just in its self-interest. I do not see another country so freely and willing to share its resources.

4) A consistency in the way the candidate lives his life and not just the way he talks about living it. This includes the way he has conducted himself in personal and political matters. This includes his choices for friends, colleagues and advisors. It includes whom he may choose to serve in his cabinet once elected.

5) A willingness to entertain openness of opinions and views but a firm foundation of basic beliefs and commitments that will serve this country well.

6) Someone who will encourage the American entrepreneurial spirit. Someone who will continue to encourage each citizen to donate their money and time for the care of their “fellow man”. We will always be a better country because we freely care and help provide for our “fellow man”. The government must provide for basic services but it should leave room and encourage each citizen to share voluntarily their resources.

7) Lastly, what has each candidate done with the wealth they have acquired? How have they voluntarily shared their largess? What have they demonstrated as their personal priorities?

If in reading this piece, I seem partial to a particular candidate that was not my intent. I would like to think that these ideals could be pulled out and used as a barometer for future electing. For now I will judiciously choose my news sources, seek a variety of them and tune into, what I fear, may be less than truly objective presidential and vice-presidential debates. Of course, most of all, I will be praying for this “One nation under God with liberty and justice for all”.


John F. O’Kane
September 2008

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