John Lennon and Love over Fear

While working on this week’s sermon, and pondering why we seem so divided these days, I stumbled, by accident or grace, upon these words from John Lennon:

“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance…”

As someone who is anxious by nature, very susceptible to fear, I can attest to the ‘pull back from life.’ There are lots of reasons to fear. But there is no future in fear. So I choose to love, to trust, to believe in life despite the fear. It is a conscious and daily choice.

America is a place that was created from a vision of a future, one of equality and democracy, of liberty and justice. Fear will not get us there. Only love can do that. We have to love our country into the future – love it and love its people, love its strengths and its weaknesses, love its best and worst moments.

We have reasons to fear, without doubt. But as it says somewhere ‘love casts out fear.’ Choose love. At bottom, before everything else, that is my politics, to choose love.

Why I am a candidate

I should have written this six weeks ago when I announced my candidacy, but better late than never, right? Why I am a candidate.

That came up in spades this week when someone I was meeting, a man of some local repute, asked me “What are the top three issues as you see them?” I did not have a clear answer. That bothered me, and set me thinking. Unlike other candidates, I am not in this for particular issues like healthcare or taxes. Don’t get me wrong, I care about those a lot. But what motivates me is: why those are issues in the first place?

It is our politics itself. That is not a top issue for most people, especially those who are struggling with basics like employment and housing and education and healthcare. But I truly believe that our political system, what I have called the ‘political industrial complex,’ is what prevents us from making real progress on so many fronts.

A system dependent on money and focused constantly on seeking or keeping power, even when sought for noble reasons, inevitably becomes solely about getting and keeping power. And while I believe my Democratic party is more in touch with what the people need and deserve, they are as entangled in the ‘political industrial complex’ as the Republicans. How could they not be? Who would risk their political future for changing the system?

Me. Someone without a future in politics. I am almost 65. If elected I would show up with a Medicare card in my wallet. I cannot imagine serving more than 4 or 5 terms, if I get that lucky. And believe me, there are things I want to do before I can’t do them: see Victoria Falls, be a hospital baby cuddler, finish reading Don Quixote. Congress barely gives you time to get dressed.

But if I can bring a different attitude, one of actually representing people, of acting as though Congress can be a genuine democracy, not just a pair of punch-drunk fighters in suits and shiny ties, then it’s worth it.

You see, I was a boy scout long ago. I totally bought the idea of duty to God and country. I’ve done forty years for God, so a decade for country is not too much. And it seems to me that a little more trustworthiness and loyalty and helpfulness, a bit more friendliness and courtesy and kindness, would do Congress a lot of good.

“The occasion is piled high with difficulty,” said Lincoln to Congress on this day, December 1, in 1862. “The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present,” he said. “The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise — with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.”

That’s what we need, to think anew and act anew. We need to disenthrall ourselves.

I believe I can help.