It’s that time of year again. You’re just walking along, minding your own business, thinking about what you’re going to have for lunch. Then, all of a sudden, someone jumps in front of you, asking if you’ve voted. You awkwardly either lie to them, saying that you have, or you admit that you haven’t and prepare to hear the redundant spiel about how their candidate will help to fix all of the problems that you are facing. They hand you a flier and a cute little button with their names on it, which you promptly either throw away or try to hand off to someone else.
Yep. It’s election time. No, not the Presidential election. Not Congressional elections. Not even elections for state representatives.
I’m talking about something even less significant: Student Government.
Now my point here is not to map out all of the ways in which student government is ineffective. I’m also not here to complain about how student governments often don’t make an effort to reach out to students after election week. And I’m not here to argue the implications of the fact that only about 15% of students actually vote in campus elections.
Rather, while these things may hold true, I’m not here to give any sort of political opinion. While I have very strong opinions about the vanity of Student Bodies and their role on campuses, I am not here to push any sort of political agenda. I often read articles where the author just rants about government and politics, and they often just make me angry, upset, or they serve to feed my own bias. If you’ve come here expecting something like that, then I’m truly sorry to disappoint you.
Instead, I want to offer hope. A hope that comes through not hoping, or at least not putting hope into a single individual or group. I want to offer a relatively realistic perspective of where we misplace our confidence, and how this can be changed.
No matter what you believe politically, do not put your hopes into one man (or woman) to solve all of your problems. Don’t rely on a party or group to fix whatever’s going on around you. We must remember that the center of Christ’s body is not located on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, or your Governor’s mansion, or even your town hall.
Instead, Christians must remember the centrality of Christ in the good news that they have received. No political system can revive or fully repair a broken world, no matter how extensive it may be. We are all prone to failure, no matter how grand our hopes and aspirations may be. But that’s the beautiful part: we can’t fix it alone.
As Christians, we have hope in a sovereign God who works in and through the fractured broken systems that we create. That’s kind of what God is good at: using broken sticks to make straight lines. Our hope is not in a system or doctrine of political or religious beliefs, but rather in the work and person of Jesus.
We all must remember that candidates are people, just like you and me. Despite all of their promises to “reclaim” a campus or nation, candidates will ultimately fail in keeping them. They make mistakes, and must be shown grace, just as the rest of us. For example, I know that there are a few people in Student Government who are genuine and caring people (even though they are, in my view, in the minority). However, as people, we tend to screw up even with the best intentions. I know I do.
So instead of relying on a certain group of individuals to make a change in the world, start with yourself. What are you doing to help those around you? How are you investing in the lives of those whom you come into contact with on a daily basis? What can you do to show others how you genuinely love and care for them, especially when they are facing difficult circumstances?
Rather than using tragedy as a platform point to further your political progress, can we instead listen to others’ pain and suffering, not looking to immediately solve their problem, but rather to grieve and suffer with another fellow human being?
They don’t have all the answers. I don’t have all the answers. And you don’t have all of the answers either. We are all trying to figure out this thing that we call life as best as we can. So, can we just come together, regardless of politics, religion, race, sexuality, gender, and whatever else we think divides us, and love each other (and I mean, truly love) as best as we can?
It starts with me. It starts with evaluating the things that I let separate myself from others. It starts with identifying my own prejudices, privileges, and pride in order to listen and grow with others in a meaningful way. It starts with me.
And it starts with you.