Following politics has always been a favorite past-time for me. I don’t follow it as closely as I did when I was in high school and college because, frankly, it is depressing. This time of the year, politics becomes less of a past-time for people, and more of a responsibility for all of us. We are preparing to essentially elect a whole new government. In our district of Pennsylvania, we will elect a new state representative, a state senator, a new State Attorney General, Auditor General, and Treasurer. We will elect a new Congressman, a new U.S. Senator, and our electors for President of the United States.
The campaign shows us a lot about who we are as a culture. The main question for this election seems to be, “should middle class people attain their basic necessities for work and life from government benefit, or from individual effort/civil society?” But a secondary question has arisen as well, namely, “what is the responsibility of the government and social institutions to provide for the reproductive health of women?” What do these questions tell us about our culture, and how does this tie in with vocations?
My feeling is that we don’t have much of a culture anymore. It has been seriously damaged by our collective refusal to recognize a basic truth: our life story is determined by how we follow the truth of our reasonable minds and the truth of God. Our government leaders do not act in a principled, consistent manner. They don’t try to appeal to our reason when they appeal to our vote. When they appear to act in a principled way, it is as an opponent of people who believe in human rights, human dignity, and freedom of religion. This has led to laws written that have formed a seriously damaged American culture. Law cannot bring life (only Christ can) but law can wreck life, or make it hard to live life well. This seems to be the case today, and I think most people intuitively grasp this observation.
It is really difficult to live out a sacramental life in today’s culture. It is hard to provide for your family. Jobs are hard to come by, unless you possess certain skills. If you have a job, it is longer hours and more work for you, so your boss can make payroll this week. It is hard to nurture your marriage. It is hard to live out the dignity of sex as a life-giving, faithful participation in the love of God. Tired parents don’t want children. Children intuitively grasp this. Many unmarried women despair, and offer their unborn children to abortion. The culture is flooded with immodesty (to put it mildly), much of it directed towards the female body. Consecrated life and priesthood are a shot in the dark not worth taking for most young men and women. Our civilization’s soaring up to God, symbolized by the ancient Cathedrals, has been replaced by the downward gaze into the warm glow of the touch screen.
What are we to do? Every day, we can make simple choices. Inform our consciences in truth. Feed our spirits with Jesus Christ. Be generous. Be faithful. Above all, set our lives in God’s hands, and discern His call. He is still calling. He has never stopped calling out to us. We are all still in His plan. He is leading us, eventually, to the joy of Resurrection. Every day, we can always choose to raise our eyes towards Him, instead of brooding over our fears and struggles.