“Politics, schmolitics,” I used to say.
I didn’t care. Why? Not because I don’t care about the world around me, but because I was overwhelmed by the vastness of it, and underwhelmed by the impact I felt I could have.
Where even to start? In order to properly form an opinion, I would need to spend a fair amount of time researching, reading and keeping up with the news. The impact of my measly little vote seemed inconsequential.
The likelihood that I would become a politician seemed as remote as the possibility of me becoming a lion tamer (my childhood dream job.)
Never miss a local story.
Instead, I accepted my birthright party, the party of my religion, and happily abstained from voting. I was an uninvolved, uninformed, conservative Christian. A sheep in the herd. I donned my fashionable blinders and trusted the shepherds to point me in the right direction.
In the land blessed with separation of church and state, I let me religion tell me what to believe. They told me that “conservative” was a safe word, tempered with moderation and caution. “Liberal” was a word of loose morals, excessive behaviors and pseudo, watered-down religion.
But at some point, I began to suspect that “my” party had run amok.
My first clue that I was not on the correct path for me came when reading a dear friend, Bob Minor’s, book, “When Religion is an Addiction.” His viewpoint likened conservative Christianity to an unhealthy addiction.
“What did you think?” he asked me. I hesitated, searching for the proper reaction to my entire ring of nurturing just having been thrown into the “addicted to crack” category.
He didn’t wait for my answer. “Too negative?” he asked. “A lot of people think it’s negative.”
“So, you think I’m addicted?” I finally asked.
“You? You’re not one of them,” he said. “You don’t think you’re right and everybody else is wrong.”
I had to search my heart on that one, because, in general, I probably DO think I’m right and everyone else is wrong. That’s the whole point of a belief. Otherwise, it’s just a theory.
But he was right in the sense that I understand that other people have legitimate — maybe even better — points of view that are different than mine. Maybe they’re right...and I’m wrong.
I saw a stark disconnect between the agendas pushed and what the Bible taught. How, sweet Jesus, did commands to love without judgment, give to the poor, and do unto the least of these translate to disrespect for our earth, helping in the form of withholding public assistance, and giving tax cuts to the wealthy?
If abortion is murder, then why isn’t refusing to shelter a refugee whose life is in danger a form of murder as well?
What a bubble I existed in. One where everyone voted the anti-abortion ticket, then put their fingers in their ears and sang, “La la la la la,” so as not to hear anyone else’s point of view. To see anyone else’s plight.
Or most importantly, to see if their politics aligned with the guiding principles of their religion.
I recently visited a church, where the message was one of thinly veiled racism, a call for a militant following prepared to fight a bloody fight, if needed, sealed up with rhetoric of hatred.
I left feeling convicted by God to find a new place for myself and my family. I hoped my kids had been distracted, and that the message never reached their hearts.
My faith and beliefs are on the move, but they’re still here. I’ve found a new freedom in peeling myself from the conservative tenants I assumed were my own.
I’ll find a place to land, and my beliefs will remain intact. But it will be in spite of, not because of, the ideology I once thought was my own.
Bob was right. I don’t always think I’m right and everyone else is wrong.
Reach Overland Park mom Emily Parnell at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter:@emilyJparnell.