Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Electoral reform a thought on Politics

So, I finally decided to do one on politics since I find it interesting here are my thoughts on the issue of how we vote in America

Contrary to what many think we don’t live in a democracy America is actually a Democratic Republic! This is significant because our founding fathers knew how dangerous it was when democracies crumbled. In fact, we can look at more recent examples of when democracies with limited checks failed. For example, Hitler’s rise to power. He was democratically elected because of a majority that was angry at other nations for how Germany was unfairly targeted post WWI and voted for the most corrupt leader in history. Our current system was put in place with the hope of guarding against majority mob rule lording their strength over a poor minority. 

So, I will be making suggestions for what we can do to balance our horribly flawed system that so many feel unrepresented by, a system in which neither party seems really concerned at helping to heal the scars our nation holds. It is not the destruction of the Electoral college, but a systematic reform which allows every American citizen a fair shot at having their voices heard.

I propose a system in which each state would split their vote so that any party receiving at least 25% of the popular vote would take one fourth of the State. So, if Illinois, which boasts 21 electoral votes, were to have a Republican win 25% of the votes they would receive 5 of the Electoral votes.

This would be significant because it would force both parties to cooperate with each state because they can’t just rely on that state voting like it always has. Rather, it now stands a chance of losing a substantial amount of ground and their candidate might just have more trouble making 270.

As a further attempt at this systemic reform, an area on the ballot should be included where you can vote for your first and second choice for president. For example, perhaps you are a Democrat who doesn’t like Hillary, but you definitely don’t want Trump as President. However, you’re worried, if you vote 3rd party, your vote will not count.  Under this reform, you can vote for Gary Johnson, who now would have a better chance since people will feel their vote is more significant. But, suppose he doesn’t make 25% in your state, you can still vote for Hillary as your second choice.

A further advantage of this system is, if it takes less to take a decent percentage of a state, it encourages more people to vote, creates a higher incentive for independents, for example, to finally go out and cast their vote. Lastly, it gives everybody a bigger voice. This would force both major parties to actually address the tough issues that exist more than they currently do because they cannot rely on taking a state. Perhaps we can see the day when more people have their voice heard without fear of being silenced by the system.

When there's no joy in the Desert

“Come on, buck up and just pray,” or “surely you’re in sin if you feel this way. Either that or you just aren’t focusing on God.” “If you are not joyful, then you are sinning.”

 These words reverberate through chapels and churches, Christian homes and conversations. They are plastered on t-shirts, hung on walls, and peppy phrases are placed on coffee mugs, sometimes called “coffee cup verses”.

But what do these words really mean? And what message are we sending out in our sanitized Christianese? I grew up in a Christian background that, in one way or another, seemed to ignore the reality of mental health through either making illness a god and condition from which there is no escape, or in denying it as anything other than sin and disobedience.

As someone who truly wrestles with self-esteem, in times where I am deep in the valley of brokenness and feel no motivation, the last thing that I need to hear is, “Buck up, what are you doing wrong?” I promise you that in those moments I am praying, I am in the Scriptures, and I am working to resist sin and live out my faith. Yet, despite my best efforts, these moments come.

What happens when the Church tells the broken that it is their fault, and that their attitude just needs to change? I’ll tell you. People become even more broken. And many, as I have witnessed, leave the Church because frankly, the world often - though not always - is more open to them. They have walks to de-stigmatize mental health, like the NAMI walk, they have organizations, counselors, and support groups that try to walk through the storms with the broken. So does the Church, at its best. But sadly, I’ve experienced an evangelicalism that says, “Psychology is demonic,” and claims that taking care of people’s mental health is a “sin”.

 This model does not help the church, indeed, it helps no one. It sets up boundaries to the cross, to healings, that many can never even approach. Rather, Sacred Scripture tells us:
Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me,’ (Matthew 25:37–40, ESV).
So, we see that Jesus calls his disciples; that is,you and me, to go minister to the broken, the poor, the outcast, and call them to God for, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin,” (Hebrew 4:15). Jesus understands despair, for he endured it when he went to the cross (see Hebrews 12:1–2), He understands temptations like the passage above, and with both in mind, we are called to proclaim the gospel and be ministers of healing and reconciliation. But, we need to remember that great people of faith, even in the Bible, had moments of brokenness and depression. Consider Job and David, and even Jesus going to the cross. Their sadness and anxiety were not based on sin but based on humanity, for even Jesus took on flesh, and though without sin, he understands our struggles even while calling us to healing. In the case of Job, his depression was not due to sin but due to the fall (see Genesis 3) and due to hard things happening in life.
Even people who are often considered “giants” in Christian history have experienced "dark nights". This includes Dietrich Bonhoeffer, author of “The Cost of Discipleship”, as well as Martin Luther who shortly after the Reformation, upon seeing all the pride and division, fell into a deep depression, even thinking that God was nowhere to be found. And, of course, St. John of the Cross who wrote “Dark Nights of the Soul.”
When people are struggling with psychological problems, yes, let us point them to healing and resting in Christ; but, let us also minister to them in their pain, not by telling them it’s their fault, but by bringing them to the Cross and Empty Tomb where healing can come, and that it is in God’s will where they can find rest and abundant grace. I will leave you with one last verse to consider, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15)
May the peace of Christ be with you all.