J. D. Pendry
A sick society must think much about politics, as a sick man must think much about his digestion. - C. S. Lewis
I was asked how we can ever expect to select the best leader for our country - one with integrity, candor and a strong moral fiber. Unfortunately, my answer has to be that most of us won’t make the choice based on those characteristics. We are a media driven society. One-half of the 50 percent of us that will turn out to vote, even fewer in the primary elections, will choose the best packaged façade to lead us. We’ll choose the one with the slickest campaign ads, best sound bites and of course the one most championed by the media as likely to deliver to us the promised utopia. Then all of us, including the 75 percent of the voting population that didn’t participate in choosing our leader, will lament the sad state of our nation. Then we will repeat the same mistake the next time around. It’s like the instructions on the shampoo bottle, wash, rinse, repeat.
How do you gage the integrity of a candidate? People can change their minds, their attitudes and the direction of their lives. The best example of that I can think of is Charles Colson. Life events brought about his changes, not a campaign for political office. So, I’m wary of candidates who have life changing revelations that just happen to coincide with the well-known beliefs of their party’s political base. How can a politician state logically, for example, that he or she is personally pro-life but must defend a woman’s right to choose to kill an unborn child?
How do you assess candor? In our poll driven society, my radar activates as soon as a politician cites the poll telling us what most Americans believe or want. There’s a problem with that logic. We are media driven. Most Americans do not take or have the time to truly study issues because they are too busy with other things – like working every day to support their families. Instead, they rely on what the media provides them. People listen to and accept what they hear and read in the media – even if Dan Rather said it. They respond to poll questions based on being barely informed. Politicians react to polls. Wash, rinse, repeat. A candid politician studies the issues then has no difficulty outlining and informing people about what the real problems are regardless of what the polls indicate.
Does one have a strong moral fiber? It is a perplexing question for most in modern society. Each of us defines what is moral according to our own beliefs and value systems. C. S. Lewis reminded us, “Moral collapse follows upon spiritual collapse.” The Apostle Paul explained it more directly in Romans 1:18-31. You’ll need to make your own moral assessment.
He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. – Micah 6:8 (NIV)
While searching for your perfect candidate, you must make a serious assessment that transcends the media façade. An assessment that transcends stated positions and attempts a deeper examination of the character of the person. I assess leaders, which most certainly includes any who hope to lead the world’s most blessed nation, using do justly, love mercy and walk humbly.
Do justly - means to act or conform to what is morally upright or good. This is not a complicated assessment. Do the candidate’s values expressed through words and deeds meet the criteria? This of course filters through your concept of what is morally upright or good. Do the candidate’s actions (not promises) represent just acts as they’re defined? Do the actions represent what is best for our most blessed nation?
Love mercy – means having a disposition to show kindness or compassion. Like you, I’ve been listening to unceasing political rhetoric. One group in particular has been quite shrill and disrespectful. Do you know what’s funny here? Not everyone is going to agree about which group that is. That’s fine because it’s the candidate’s response to political attacks that demonstrates if he has the needed disposition or not. Add to that an evaluation of policies. Can you find kindness and compassion in your candidate’s actions versus his or her promises?
Walk humbly – a person who walks humbly ranks himself low in a hierarchy and is not too proud or arrogant. Can you relate to the candidate on a personal level? For me, red flags go up when a candidate tells me his purpose is to look out for the “little people.” With such a statement, the candidate places himself above “little people.” One, who walks humbly, does not make such distinctions because he knows that in the grand scheme, we are all little people.
Choose wisely, the fate of our country depends on it.
© J. D. Pendry 2007