Pilgrim on Politics: The Day After

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November 7, 2012 by eneubauer

The Day After – 1983

When I was growing up the made for TV movie, The Day After was all about the possibility of nuclear war with America’s greatest foe – the U.S.S.R. Of course, when you game out the possibility of nuclear war you quickly realize that one side is quite victorious while the other decimated and demoralized.

Today, 50% of the voting public feels great, energized and victorious while 48% is feeling a bit decimated and demoralized.  However, now that public polling is done, the commercials have ceased and the war is over we must rise from the ashes of this election battle and figure out how to solve the problems & challenges all Americans face.  The Day After we still have troubling economic numbers, stubborn unemployment percentages, thousands of long-term unemployed, and huge deficits in the midst of a changing Middle East, the rise of the Global South and Europe’s struggle to solve their own financial crisis.

America is at a tipping point and the question we should be asking ourselves is, “Which way do we want to go?”

Remember, elections decide who is in power (Democrats now control 2 of our 3 branches of government) not how the problems get solved.

But our challenges don’t end with bad economic news.  Post last night’s decision, there are also happy and unhappy cultural warriors out there as well.  Social issues were on the ballot in 2012 from the legalization of recreational pot use to same-sex marriage and assisted suicide.  These issues are gaining traction in a society that is rapidly devolving from the acceptance of traditional values to adherence of secular ideals not based in any one religion but on the ever evolving societal norms that a majority have come to accept as normal.  Those who accept traditional values as, the standard, are divided among themselves on how best to express those values.  In addition, traditional value voters can’t seem to break through with their current methodological approach to reach others beyond their base.

I believe the basis for a long-term solution relating to the overall direction of our country in particular and the world in general is the acceptance of a multi-pronged approach that will take time and individual effort.  I will outline two steps in this process – more to come later.  I hope you are willing to make the investment!

First, as a foundational principle – we must properly form our conscience.  The U.S. Bishops have put out a fabulous document called, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” in which it describes how one properly forms conscience.  In section 1 paragraph 17 the Bishops talk about the importance of a well-formed conscience.  In addition, paragraph 18 speaks of specific criteria in the development of conscience:

  1. Desire to Embrace Goodness & Truth
  2. The Study of Sacred Scripture & the Catechism of the Catholic Church
  3. Examine the Facts & Background Information
  4. Prayerful Reflection – trying to discern God’s Will

If I am honest I have observed two things this election cycle relating to this document.  First, a hunger to understand it – a subject that I have spoken on several times in different venues to all relevant age groups.  Second, I have seen many a Catholic & Christian (of good will & intent) forming their conscience around the talking points of talk radio / blogosphere rather than immersing themselves in the guiding principles for conscience formation as outlined by the Bishops.  This will have to change.  I believe this document can serve as a unifying document that will also challenge our current methodological approach (a conversation we will have in an upcoming post).

Second, it is important to note (whether you’re happy or sad about the specific results of last night’s election) Catholics have to move away from just “checking the box.”  Let me explain.  Many regularly vote in each election and see this activity as their way of participation.  Once this action is taken or the box has been checked in the voting booth – participants see their job as DONE.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  Voting is only one of many actions concerned Catholics should be involved in.  Each of us has an obligation to stay involved in the public or political process throughout the year.  This includes involvement in parish Peace & Social Justice ministries, Catholic Charities, awareness programs, letter writing campaigns, phone calling representatives, and visiting with our local / state-wide officials allowing our collective voices be heard on ALL the issues that matter.  Not only are we not SINGLE ISSUE voters but we cannot allow ourselves to be politically active once every two or four years.  We need to be active throughout the year and the impact will be overwhelming.

The things that make me proud of my conversion to Catholicism are its universality, concern over a multitude of issues, passion for being educated & well-informed, and the fact that we are encouraged to be active in two “kingdoms” – one earthly and the other eternal.

Today, I choose to be actively involved in both and am willing to look deep within to find the solutions that will have a real and lasting effect.

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