1 Ephraim feeds on the wind;
he pursues the east wind all day
and multiplies lies and violence.
He makes a treaty with Assyria
and sends olive oil to Egypt.
(Read the rest of the chapter here!)
Don’t let activism exhaustion set in (aka, don’t confuse winning the battle with winning the war)
This chapter is a political criticism, more than anything. It opens with Hosea bashing Israel’s foreign policy: “chasing the wind” is fruitless because you’ll never catch it, and that is what Israel is doing by bouncing back and forth between treaties with Egypt and Assyria. Hosea then goes on to give a short recount of Israel’s mythologized national history – not unlike an American evoking the more sensational tales of George Washington – in an effort to contrast the poor moral fiber of Israel’s current political climate. Unlike today, Hosea (and indeed, all of Israel) mixed religion and politics, claiming a return to God would save not only souls but national policy as well. This difference aside, I still thought it would be a good time to offer up my own little political criticism, since that’s what this chapter is all about.
The recent impeachment of Donald J. Trump is historic, and I don’t want to take from that. He is only the third president to be impeached in 230 years of US presidents. But what does impeachment mean? Right now, not much more than an asterisk beside Trump’s name in future history books, just like Johnson and Clinton. In truth, this impeachment is small potatoes compared to the more systemic problems facing this country: voting districts are still gerrymandered, thousands are incarcerated for minor crimes, children are still in cages at the border, and McConnellism (more on that in a minute) is the new norm.
To pull from recent history: I don’t want the impeachment to become another Standing Rock. Remember Standing Rock and the NoDAPL pipeline? We all celebrated when, in December 2016, the pipeline’s easement was denied…and then it became a closed matter for most of the country (I’ll admit – myself included). Barely a word was uttered on national outlets when Trump reversed the easement denial with an executive order and construction began in February 2017. And guess what: the pipeline leaked five times in six months, exactly the kind of disaster that the Sioux of Standing Rock were worried about. But the initial fight had already been won, our national liberal conscious assuaged, and as a country we couldn’t be bothered to keep fighting. Long story short, don’t confuse winning one battle with winning the war. It’s exhausting to keep fighting. But it is so, so necessary if you care about your Earth, your fellow humans, your God.
Why progressive Christians need to be politically active
If you want something political to focus upon, it’s McConnellism. Mitch McConnell has done more to hurt the American Democracy than Trump ever could. There are multiple articles on this from a myriad of sources: pick which one appeals to you. But in a nutshell, McConnell has made it his policy to put Republican wins over any other priority: refusing to consider Obama’s Supreme Court nomination (and I’m not even sure how many Federal judge nominations), refused to cooperate with election-tampering investigations (even lifting sanctions on Putin allies under FBI investigation), and now coordinating impeachment strategy with White House lawyers. McConnell doesn’t care what the American people want, or even what is good for this country. He just wants the Republican party (and his own self) to hold on to as much power as possible, no matter the cost.
Jostling for power is a normal part of politics. In fact, the Founding Fathers counted upon it-hence all the checks and balances. Now, however, the political culture in Washington has changed: it is power for power’s sake – not for advancing the good of the country. I think getting Mitch McConnell out of the Senate would be a great start. But it’s going to take more than that, because the next Senate leader can simply follow McConnell’s example and keep up the race to the bottom.
I think the only thing that is going to make a real difference is if more – and I mean a lot more – people become politically engaged on a much more regular basis. And this will take time, too, which is discouraging. We all like fast results, that’s why fad diets continue to be a thing. But we can’t get discouraged to the point that we stop fighting. The well-being of too many people (both in this country and out of it) are at stake. Vote. Call your representatives. And don’t forget local politics: town halls and city councils are great ways to get your voice heard. Join marches and demonstrations. Start fundraisers – it’s so easy to do a small birthday fundraiser on Facebook now for a cause you believe in. If you feel really moved, you can volunteer for a campaign or polling station. Here’s a great list of even more ways to become more politically engaged. It may feel like we don’t have a lot of power because it takes so long for things to change. And I won’t deny there’s a lot of corruption that we’re up against. But popular uprisings happen all the time through-out history. And if we are loud enough, we can demand change.
Now why, you might be thinking, is a religious blog getting so political? Aren’t we supposed to have a separation between Church and State? Yes, we have that separation. But 1.) I’m not in office nor am I running for office. 2.) I’m not trying to dictate anyone’s religious beliefs. I’m simply saying that, as a Christian (hell, as a decent human being) the hollowing out of American democracy and all the racism/xenophobia/sexism/environmental destruction that goes with it are issues you should care about; AND here is a way that we can make a positive change. Government is able to make broad policy decisions for the whole country that lead to the most amount of change in the least amount of time. (Imagine how much plastic pollution would decrease if Styrofoam and plastic bags were outlawed at a national level.) Political change is not the whole fight (think how long it took some school districts to de-segregate after Brown v. Board of Education), but it is a large, large portion of said fight. Don’t let that fight stop with the impeachment. Keep fighting for the issues that are important to you. You can bet your ass that this liberal Christian is going to be active in the political process and use my faith as a sounding board, and you should do so, too.