Now that the big bad midterm elections are over here in America, I’d like to reflect on an experience of mine concerning politics. I had the opportunity to volunteer for a political campaign here in Rhode Island that has garnered national attention, and for all the right reasons. A third party candidate that spent under $40.00 and raised money for charity instead of his campaign was able to inspire 22% of the people to vote for him.
Volunteering for this campaign opened my eyes to a new truth I had never considered but it now undeniable to me. Political parties, of all kinds, should be avoided and rejected.
It’s easy for us to feel like the political party to which we belong is doing God’s work. That OUR side is on the RIGHT side. The truth is that taking any side at all is contrary to the Quaker value of community. Political parties succeed in dividing the people, usually for their own benefit, in order to raise money and win elections.
I look to Scripture for council on this issue in a book often overlooked; Titus. In Titus Chapter 3 (8-9) we read,
“This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men. But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.”
Now, these verses probably have more to do with the Early Church than politics and government. However, the same lessons can be applied to our political climate today. We ought to focus on good works and good works alone. To join one side against another is unprofitable and vain. It is contentious and factious.
Third parties, although largely seen as “non-parties,” are not immune. We should be cautious of them as well, for the likelihood that they will become corrupted and drunk with power should they become successful in winning elections is as great as any other political faction.
The Society of Friends is a beautifully simple, diverse, and welcoming Faith community. Everyone’s spiritual path is their own and everyone’s experience of The Light is different. Yet, we can all join together in Worship, knowing deep down that despite our differences in definitions and spiritual expression, that we are all brothers and sisters and that we welcome the call to love and support one another in our spiritual journeys.
We ought to embrace this philosophy in our political lives as well. Cast off the chains of your political party and disaffiliate yourself with divisive and contentious organizations. Bringing people together and resolving conflict is difficult when you’re standing on one side or the other; it’s a whole lot easier when you’re standing in the middle.