Monday, October 22, 2012

Why I don't vote (a rough sketch)

**Note: This would be much better stated within a RL dialogue.  I don't think anyone should just accept this fully at face value.  This is complex even within my own head.**

Who are you going to vote for? I hate that question mainly because the answer I give usually turns into an argument with whomever may have asked it.  For most people there is a "right" answer to that question, or at the very least an acceptable "wrong" answer, but very few people are willing to even try to dialogue with someone who says: "I'm not voting."  The only response I ever seem to get to that is one of frustration often with a side of anger.  Things are said like "Well then I better never hear you complain about things!" or "You are neglecting your duty!" or "How can you not use the great freedom you have, do you not care?!?"

Yet when I ask them why they feel this way, and to help me see what I might be missing, they tend to speak to the exact things I've thought about time and again as voting seasons come and go each and every year.  Let me first address the 3 big reactionary statements listed above because I feel those are a bigger issue than what I really want to talk about.  

"You don't vote, you don't get to talk" is a bull response.  I don't get to say "I wish we had a different X" or "If Y had just gone the other way."  I'll agree with that.  But can I still say my views on social, family, world, and even government issues? Yes, I'm still welcome in the world of the public square and honestly I'm quite active there, I just don't vote instead choosing to act in other forms.

"You have a duty, You must use your freedoms."  You know what makes things free? They're not your duty and you don't have to do things. There are lots of freedoms that I don't use and there are good reasons why I don't.  For example, I don't bear arms, and there are many who agree with that choice, so why is voting different? Also, do you know what I feel my duty is?  Love others, Love God, Love creation, act as a good steward and servant through faithfully discerned actions.  That (in my case) doesn't include voting. 

Okay, now that all of that is out of the way:  Why don't I vote?  I wish there was a simple way to state this that everyone would understand and not just ignore as if I'm ignorant, but I know my reasons aren't that understandable to most, especially when I tell them that I WANT them to vote.  The simple answer is that in my lifetime of discerning my call from God, voting has never been something I've discerned as an act faithful to my understanding of that call.  

That though is just a reactionary answer.  The deep answer is that I feel very called to certain acts of ministry, certain stances on what it means to act as a Christian, certain things that God has placed before me, and voting could damage that work, and honestly might be seen by some as hypocritical of what I claim.  

I am called to relational work, work with all those who I come in contact with.  I am called to help them in the moments I have with them and try to empower them going forward.  I expect many readers now are thinking: well that's why you vote, to better empower others and to help them, but that's not where I fit in, I feel that I am called not to change the system, but to be change in the world.  

I am called to love all.  The way our political system is set up, to vote is to choose a side, but this is not God choosing the side of the oppressed, this is us choosing an ideology which we then defend, even as it (as all ideologies do) oppresses others.  My love for all is relational, I can only fully love those I know.  I feel my call is weakened when others see me as a label.  

I am called to a world beyond principalities and powers.  This world for me is not some future place, or some other plane of existence  but here and now within the Kingdom of God here in the Creation of God.  I cannot be part of choosing other powers over God's.  I feel I must be willing to do that which I choose to do regardless of its place within society.  I was once asked by someone upset at me not voting why I didn't go to China or Russia where I couldn't be free.  All I could answer was, "I would like to think the legality of my actions will always be secondary to the faithfulness of those actions."  I cannot be sure that I would actually do so, but here and now in the country in which I live, I will render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's as long as I first render unto God that which is God's.  

I have been called by others a "Utopian Anarchist" and I have redefined that term to fit as a compliment.  I do believe in a world where we will do what is right for one another in all cases without a government to "make it so."  I believe I am called to work towards that world.  There is the need for many to vote for whomever they discern to be the faithful choice as they are able to understand it, for me that need is to not vote, to speak through actions to a world possible regardless of what worldly powers exist.  Jesus did not overthrow the government, Jesus changed the world through his individual actions, changes that have influenced so many to do things in their lives faithfully as well.  God's world is not political, and for me that is key to my faith at this time.  

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