Here it comes.
Election Day is Tuesday. The race for the White House reached its final advertising crescendo on Thursday with a massive ad-buy by Senator Obama’s campaign on major primetime networks — half an hour of prime time television. The whole world holds its breath.
What do we wait for?
The end of the Bush era. The end of the Era of Katrinas and Bail-Outs. The end of al-Qaida. The end of the war in Iraq, that hitherto invulnerable monster we started but could not stop. The end of all wars.
Hiding behind the President’s dismal approval ratings is the overlarge elephant in the room: we did this. All of us. We elected President George W. Bush. Twice. We installed a jingoistic Republican Congress to aid his policies. We elected a Democratic Congress unable to stop him. We took out bad mortgages. We sold bad mortgages. We bought them from ourselves.
We watched a city drown, eyes glued to televisions but hands glued to remote controls, not outstretched to help.
We tortured, and we defended it.
We did this. We did it all.
So what do we wait for?
We wait for a time when we can look ourselves in the mirror and not feel like this. We want forgiveness, and we want to forgive ourselves.
The obstacle: we always get what we ask for. We asked for these last eight years. We asked for war after the towers fell. And in four days, we will get what we ask for again, and we still ask for the wrong things.
We get it partially right: we ask for new blood, for the expulsion of corrupt officials, for public structures that work. We ask for better judgment from our leaders. We ask for optimism, and we ask to be inspired.
These are good things to ask for.
But these are not all we ask for.
We ask for a reshuffling of conflicts to more lethally hate an enemy. We ask for continued economic and military dominance of a planet choking to death on our freedom from want. We ask for safety, for power, for glory.
If we keep asking for these things, we will get them. They will taste like bitter ash in 2009 the same as they did in 2008 and in 2001.
The earliest of Christian writings speak of the three things that rise from ash, that persist, that do not fade: faith, hope and love. Hope is the word of the hour. We’re asking for hope. I even voted for hope. But we’d be better off asking for the greatest of these, love.
Love can do what bullets cannot. Love can end these wars. Love can defeat evil. Love can bring freedom. The state apes an ability to do so, but it cannot. The violence of the state is God’s strategy to cause the works of the enemy to frustrate themselves. Though the civil religion thunders from a thousand pulpits tomorrow, it is an empty echo. As much as the state would like you to believe that it can defeat evil, that it is the “last, best hope of Earth,” its power pales before, kneels before, love. God is love.
Regardless who wins — although it’s probably safe to assume Obama will win — the next four years will not be about our chosen president saving us from ourselves. The next four years must be a constant struggle to save the president from the path we’re setting him on via a landslide vote for an agenda that, at least in part, commits us to killing more of our enemies, rather than loving them.
Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s. Render the rest unto God. Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has my vote. But Jesus has my loyalty.