When political banter seems the rage, go the way of love.

We were on Romans 14 last Wednesday in our bible study, discussing the issues (and sometimes trivial matters) that divide believers in the church. It was about accepting those whose faith was weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. The end statement was to respect and be circumspect, to ensure keeping peace over being ‘right’ in order not to offend or cause division among believers. We talked about what these issues are: food (pork/non-pork), what kind of music to play in church, social drinking, tattoos, the kind of appropriate clothing to wear to church –these things. They are all a matter of conviction and not ‘essentials of faith’, meaning, these issues do not have any bearing to a person’s salvation. Pastor Cesar puts it this way. “Will you die for this matter?” Sometimes, it’s all preferences. If it were an issue of salvation, of Jesus’ deity, the Trinity, yes. I will defend. There was another point discussed in this passage, that of passing judgment. Because we all are guilty of it. What to a person is solid, full meal, to another, still milk, as he ingests scripture and cannot yet fully grasp or understand its deep meaning and relevance. But should he be condemned or judged for it?

One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind.

12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

Romans 14

What was interesting was that this week opened up an area where the lessons I learned from Romans 14 had to be put to test. It had nothing to do with faith and salvation, but with preference over who to vote. And I get it. We all have different views and opinions about the candidates that are presented before us. They’re not the best lot to select from, that’s for sure. As a friend pointed out, you decide which ‘poison’ to ingest because the sad reality is that these are the candidates we are offered. That, or you choose to abstain. In the end, though, you submit to whoever wins, with full acceptance that God is sovereign over this country. That has always been my outlook. I will do my part to vote the candidates whose principles are pretty much aligned with mine, but if they should not win, I would have still done my duty to vote.

Much in the same way that we root for different basketball teams, we also root for different political parties. However, while in basketball it is all friendly competition, here, things become personal. Too personal, I’d say. I think it’s because it has to do with our future, and we all have our ideas and opinion on how we want this country run. Everyone starts jumping at each other, even different friends of mine who didn’t know each other were counter-arguing on my wall, and I didn’t like it. I saw for myself how it could turn much worse when I started posting random thoughts and articles about a certain presidential candidate, and for some reason, things exploded on Facebook land. Not on my wall, particularly. The whole feed was just very political and tense. Everyone was on it. A rape joke. Funds of Yolanda. Misogynist, sexist remarks. Suddenly, everyone is righteousness-centric, “he-who-has-no-sin-cast-the-first-stone” kind of attitude. When you express your thoughts on the matter, they counter you with this argument. They pass on judgement. It’s scary how easily people (especially your Christian friends) can raise the righteousness card when it isn’t even about it at all. It isn’t about who’s more righteous or not. What about just calling a spade, spade? Or calling a sin, sin? People go to great lengths to justify but so few have yet stepped up and said, “yes, that was wrong.” To me, that is so much better than going about blindly following and believing, and holding people accountable to their words and actions. “I like him, but I do not approve this remark or this action.”

For everyone’s information, I am undecided. I have no presidential bet yet. I might even abstain. I was going to vote for Mar by default, because I wanted Leni Robredo to be supported. Do I think Mar is the best candidate? Heck, no. I’m not even impressed with his overall performance pre-election. And I wrote about this in my previous posts. Just because you are inclined to vote for one person does not mean you can go on excusing their bad behavior / output. That’s not me.

So I had to take a step back because I realize this is not how I want to interact with friends, and this is not how I want to go about the elections. I told a friend, who is voting opposite my choice, that I sincerely respect people over their choices and I recognize that I will not be able to convince them otherwise, in the same way they won’t be able to convince me, too. Why? Because we trust that people have solidly researched about their choices, and have taken in all that their candidates offer –the good, the bad, and still accept them for it. So how can you argue against that? If they do change their minds and suddenly had a 180 degree view on their current bet, then good for them. I give up trying to convince people. We really all just come with different ideas.

In the end, we still choose to respect people and respect the differences. And we choose love over all. These are our friends, after all, and hopefully our political leanings do not make up our friendship. It will be pretty shallow for people to unfriend each other based on political preferences. It upset me when people I wasn’t close with in the first place would go post on my wall about their candidates, and it’s a little sad that we don’t even go to the primary “hellos and hi’s” anymore. You haven’t interacted for a long time, and the first interaction is a political banter? Because we live in an age where everything becomes “socially-relevant” by default thanks to the power of social networking, we feel entitled to post away opinion on other people’s walls instead of sincerely engaging that person on a personal level. People can privately message me and discuss issues, and I prefer that, than people who comment like they know me, and judge because this is your stand.

I also apologize that my rants struck a chord with you. Friends know me to be very outspoken, which is why I’m glad we can go beyond these political rants and remain friends.

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