Rights and Interests

I’ve told a good friend of mine a number of times that I have a terrible political mind. I find it difficult to think like a politician. It’s terribly uncomfortable for me. Let me illustrate: There is a phrase that the candidates have been using lately that grates against my values.  “I will protect American interests overseas!”  Now, I’m sure that’s what politicians are supposed to say. I’m sure that is what our government servants are supposed to do, protect our interests above all others… but I don’t like it. I don’t think that, as a Christ-follower, it is something I can fully and whole-heartedly support. (I told you…. bad political mind)

Here is my problem (and I’m wondering if there are any other evangelical Christians who struggle with this, too): My citizenship knows no national boundary.  I have brothers and sisters all over the world who also have interests and rights, some of them are rich and powerful and some of them are poor and have no voice in their government or its policies. Some of them own no land, no home, have no job.  Some benefit from our country’s foreign policy, but some of them suffer greatly from our actions (such as our sanctions against abusive governments, but also because of American corporations and the laws that protect them).

We consume so much of the world’s resources and spend so much energy trying to police the governments of the world…. our politicians promise that we will have what we “need” (more likey “want”) for years to come if we elect them.  They promise to keep us safe.  But at what expense? Who is looking out for the rest of God’s people?  How can I be at peace about politicians promising to protect our interests when I am aware of people all over the world who have no one (or at best, very few) people promising to protect theirs?  I am MORE than an American. That is my problem with American politics.

And then there is all the lingo about rights– my rights, your rights, the rights of the unborn, the rights of the accused, the rights of immigrants, the rights of single parents, of underage children, of animals, of women, minorities, men.  Who decides whose rights are valued more, who gets first priority? Sadly, it seems wealth and power often decide… as a white woman, I have seen both sides of this. I have such privilege and opportunity as an American. Yet, I have seen and felt what it is like to be pushed down, unheard, hands tied, passed over… a small taste, but I have experienced it.  My right to pursue happiness may collide with someone else’s right to survive.  Your right to eat until you’re satisfied may mean someone else cannot. His right to the job he wants may mean someone else has to take a job that pays barely enough to feed his family. America’s right to oil and its right to prevent attacks against its citizens means other people die.

I, of course, want my rights and interests protected, and those of my husband and children as well. They need to be protected. But I also want leaders who have a view wider and larger than this country. America is one among many nations. We are not the best. We are not always right or always good. There are other people out there with rights and interests. They should be protected, too. And if it’s not a Christian politician’s job to do that, whose job is it?


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Dennis Kuhns (Dad)
    Jun 28, 2008 @ 18:34:39

    I am with you in keeping my citizenship in the Kingdom of God above my national citizenship. I think my time in Brazil helped me understand that. Living there as a “resident alien,” I had to abide by Brazilian law, and at the same time I was a citizen of another country with its laws. I learned to appreciate the words in Hebrews 11:13b-16, “…And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” We need to abide by the laws of our land, but hold it tentatively because we do look for that “better country” that one whose citizens are our sisters and brothers in Christ.

    That’s for reminding us.


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