Voting not religious but results shape moral values
I have never thought of voting being a religious act. To be religious, there is an implication that any given action taken is driven by a belief in God. There are a lot of people who don't give a hoot about God who vote.
But voting, at least from where I sit, does seem to be a moral obligation. As an African American, I am a part of a group for whom voting was denied for far too long; way too many people suffered and died so that that right would be extended to us as American citizens.
Whether or not voting is a moral act for the general populace, I cannot say, but I can say that the results of elections always do have moral consequences.
I am struggling with the results of yesterday's election, because I keep wondering where, when the dust all settles, will "the least of these," those people about whom Jesus said we as religious people should be concerned...where will they be?
That is always my struggle when the Republicans win, and, quite frankly, when many Democrats win as well. The struggle between big government and big business will never go away. Presumably, "big government" is more concerned with the have-nots of society, while big business uses the have-nots to increase their profits.
It's only my observation, perspective and feelings; just because I feel it doesn't make it so.
But at the end of the day, in politics and even in many religious institutions, the poor continue to be manipulated so that they pay more for less, making the rich fatter and richer. There is no morality in that.
My sadness is that politicians, be they Tea Party, Republican, Democrat, Progressive or Independent, seem, in the end, to forget the have-nots, often blaming them for their lot in life.
Religious issues are thrown out not as an indication of genuine concern, but rather as meat for politicians looking to score points.
A friend of mine asked me, "Whenever there's an election, do you think it really affects the people on the bottom rungs of society?"
I had to think. In some ways, it does. Things can be and have been made more difficult for those on the bottom rungs. In other ways, the have-nots are forgotten, used for a time and then ignored.
What the Republicans see as smaller government might include less for the have-nots, in the areas of health care, education, housing. Republicans seem to think that small government is a must when speaking of the needs of "the least of these." Spending government money to fund wars never seems to be an issue for some folks. That, to me, doesn't seem all that moral.
Rabbi Michael Lerner wrote a wonderful piece for Tikkun,which appeared in today's Huffington Post, giving those who are despairing today some really good ways to think from this day forward. He criticizes the Obama administration for not being in tune with the American people, but gives us pause and makes us think how we move forward. This election did not have to come out this way, Lerner says.
Perhaps more of us, upon thinking of Rabbi Lerner's piece, will think of voting as a right and a privilege to help shape the moral fabric of this nation so that "the least of these" may feel true compassion and caring from those who unabashedly court them at election time, and then step on them and their circumstances to make their own lives more comfortable.
Susan K. Smith
November 3, 2010; 2:41 PM ET
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