I’m not good at the Bible. I know it vaguely from a lifetime of attending worship at various Presbyterian Churches. A favorite cliché of all those Sunday school classes over 55+ years is that Jesus cares about our hearts. The law, doctrine, all the visible markers of our faith are ways to care for and cultivate our hearts. It is our hearts and how that manifests itself in our lives that matters.
We have a collective heart that reflects the character of us as a nation. We elected Obama because he promised Hope & Change and we were mad at the status quo. Obama was a protest vote against what we thought was a corrupt system set against us. In eight years we have slowly seen the culture, our national character, grow more resentful and bitter. Obama has not helped us heal, has not delivered on his promise of Hope & Change. Instead, we intuited his bitter heart and began to behave in ways that manifested his and our resentments.
In the news recently we’ve had acts of God in the storms that have battered the Eastern Seaboard near South Carolina. We’ve also had riots in France, another rampage shooter at a college in Oregon, a few months back the brief rash of shootings of cops, and more blather from politicians about needing more laws to fix all this.
The currency of the press is bad news. It isn’t news if things are going well. What I hear in this stream of stories is not a failure of the law, of law enforcement, or a lack of law. I hear failures of the heart and the sick symbiosis between us and the leaders we elect to govern us. Three paragraphs of buildup to get to an old conclusion–be compassionate. Care for your heart. Where you have bitterness or resentment that tempts you to ugly behavior–fix that.
It’s a 2,000-year-old message: Love God with all your heart, mind, and strength, love your neighbors as yourself, and do small things with great love. None of these are ideas of my own making. All have been repeated endlessly over the last 2,000 years or more. I’ve posted them here more than once. But, as I traverse the roads of this country while a robot takes pictures of the roads I travel, I felt like it was time to repeat these words. 2,000 years ago the Nazarene carpenter who spoke truth to power found himself martyred on a cross. The religious establishment of his day responded to his truth by killing him. That was not the end of it. His death set in motion a revolution that affected history for the next two millennia and continues to do so. His followers number in the billions. He weren’t nobody and yet history has proven that he was very much a somebody.
When it comes to politics and the presidential election, we tried left-wing hope & change. Things are worse. Historic deficit spending to get us out of the malaise we were/are in has only escalated our misery. We are given a false dichotomy between less socialist and more socialist in this next election. It seems illogical to me to elect someone who would double down on socialism because we haven’t tried hard enough over the last 100 years of it. Politics, though, pretty much just pisses me off. Washington D.C. feels remote to me, like a circus sideshow that occasionally makes an impact on my life. It seems like one of those things I cannot change. Politics is a wooden topic for me. Instead, I figure I can have more impact within my immediate circle of influence.
I ain’t nobody. Most of my readers ain’t nobody. It would be easy to say that what is in our hearts matters to none. That would be wrong. It matters to many, starting with the immediate circle of kin and friends around you. It may matter to many more. We don’t know, won’t know, maybe never know. But there was one who cared about the hearts of his people and who weren’t nobody and yet, changed the world. Our hearts do matter, our hearts are somebody. Take care of your heart. The rest will follow.