Building Bridges (and walls)
Election season is approaching full momentum and it has become more intriguing than any reality show on TV. The recent interchange between the Pope and one particular candidate exemplified the stakes of the campaign trail. Somewhere in the criticisms a very valid point was lost. We should, indeed, be building bridges instead of walls. I agree that from a political perspective one could debate the effect of such an approach (our country does need a strong defense and walls do help to provide it). But, philosophically and theologically one could not argue with the concept of bridges. Christ very clearly tells us to build bridges in His greatest commandments, to love your neighbor as yourself. He even takes it a step further and tells us to love our enemies. But don’t worry. If you are into walls, the Bible provides some sound advice on that topic as well.
Like a city whose walls are broken through, is a person who lacks self-control. (Proverbs 25:28, NIV)
The children studied this scripture passage for the month of January and we discovered that there are many different ways to build walls around ourselves. Walls protect us from the negative forces of the world. Walls help contain us into a safe space, even providing shelter from our own selves. Walls take on so many forms, but essentially walls represent the choices we make.
So, I have a little advice for our aspiring Presidential candidates as well as those who have landed in the middle of the all the banter. They could learn a lot from what our children said about self-control in Church School last month:
- Choose what you should do and not what you want to do. Choose the things that God prioritizes and not what society applauds.
- It’s better to be patient than to fight. Sometimes restraint can be a more powerful position than belligerent and thoughtless attacks.
- Select your words carefully. Remember that a carefully chosen word, or two, is more dignified and convincing than judgmental and demeaning words.
- Press pause…give yourself time to think about what you do before you do it.
In a world where society tends to mistake the loudest voice in the room as the leaders’ voice, I wish we could take a step back and focus our efforts, both as voters and as candidates. Amidst the mud-slinging and personal attacks, we seem to learn less and less about the candidates, beyond their ability to be noisy, thoughtless, and mean. And, we mistake this as a sign of strength. In my mind, self-control takes more strength and leadership than most of the behaviors on display during this campaign trail. Maybe our candidates should spend a little more time in Sunday School so they can start to rebuild some walls around themselves.