Is It Worth Going to the Mat For?

You know the saying: “All politics is local.” It’s true. Even politics on the national stage are of interest to us only when we ask ourselves what difference this or that candidate would make “in my life” if they were elected.

Some things are “local” – that is, personal,  only because we make them so. Fear makes us make something “local” and personal that actually has very little direct impact on our lives. Fear is at the heart of the dispute over who can use what bathroom. Things get crazy when personal (local) fear is used to generate national policy.

The three people who are currently in the running for the presidency work very hard to convince us that they are acutely aware of the real problems facing our nation’s people. But I was thinking the other day as I was waiting in traffic – All these people in their cars, listening to their radio, talking and laughing with friends – where exactly are all the problems we supposedly face? I was downtown the other day, sitting at an outdoor cafe, watching all the people as they strolled by – some hand in hand, some laughing, some looking important – but no one was complaining about how bad their life is.

People do a lot of complaining on Facebook; but it is obvious that everyone is well fed, loving their pets, proud of their children (or themselves). I think it was 92 people who sent me birthday greetings on Facebook the other day. I got two chocolate cakes and a pumpkin pie and presents. It occurred to me that people go out of their way to find reasons to celebrate. And it looks as if there are plenty who have the means to do so.

I know we have people working full time for less money than it takes to live. I know there are serious issues with how we pay for healthcare. I am aware that we continue to wreak havoc with the environment and that we all use too much plastic. The thing that impresses me, especially with the volume turned up so loud on all that is wrong, is the fact that so many people are living in ways that make life work for them. With their families in the direst of circumstances, still, little children manage to go outside, find a friend or two and play for hours on end.

The thing we really need to be worrying about is whether we are worrying about the wrong things. And you know what … life is hard. I don’t care if you are Bill Gates or the couple sitting on milk crates begging. Kudos to everyone who has enough of a sense of their blessings that they are able and willing to spend some time, energy and resources showing some love for somebody else. “Way to go” to the folks who refuse to be brought down to the mat because of society’s paranoia. The heart of Jesus’ message is the willingness to stand up and speak up for those who others would take down. While it’s true that nothing is more noble than the willingness to give our life for another, nothing is more foolish than to spend yourself on a plan, process or policy the facts of which are based on an inflated sense of its own importance.

One of the best ways to determine what – or more often, who – is worth going to the mat for is to look for who is already down there. Time and again, those are the people Jesus went looking for to encourage, heal and inspire them with the good news of their own self worth.

Mark Demers

Want to talk about sex, politics, spirituality? So do I. I grew up in a religious home in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Our country was reeling from assassinations and the devastation of the Viet Nam War. Looking for something beautiful, I got a degree in music, married the love of my life and had children. Looking for God, I then went to seminary. Looking for something that might transform the world, I became a local church pastor. Now, I’m always looking for people who want to talk about important things. I cherish conversations with emerging leaders, people who are antsy to try an idea they believe would change the world for the better. I’d would love to hear from you.