Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Give us This Day our Daily Vote (Brian E. Konkol)

The following was published on the Sojourners' God's Politics blog on October 22, 2012, and can be found at:

In a few weeks citizens will choose who serves as President of the United States.  As many from all sides of the political spectrum have already recognized, the nationwide decision of November 6th will impact the direction of fifty states – as well as the international community – for generations to come.  Since the opposing presidential candidates offer contrasting views for the future, the choice to be made is indeed critical, thus all are encouraged to listen openly and attentively, critique the various policy positions carefully, and when the first Tuesday of November arrives, make an informed choice for the collective benefit of our global common good. 

While one should affirm and appreciate the importance of Election Day, we should also recognize and appreciate our ability to shape society far more frequently than once every four years.  In other words, while several years pass between presidential elections, we vote for the collective benefit of our global common good on numerous occasions with each passing day.   

In reflection upon our communal capacity to vote, some describe the act as directly (and exclusively) related to Election Day.  However, the act of voting is far broader and more inclusive than the first Tuesday of November every four years, for voting is – by definition – a means by which personal preferences and priorities are publically promoted.  As a result, when one takes into account a more expansive definition of voting, we recognize that voting is an act that takes place on numerous occasions each and every day.  In other words, on a repeated basis we publically promote our personal preferences and priorities, which in turn shapes our world, oftentimes in ways and means far greater than what takes place on Election Day.

One of the ways we shape our world is through economic choices.  For example, when I purchase a product, I – by definition – cast a vote, for my preferences and priorities are made known through my consumption of goods and services.  As a result, in addition to supporting the company that produced the product I purchased, I also support the process that allowed the particular product to be produced.  For instance, if I purchase an item that was produced through immoral labor practices, then I support such practices, therefore I “vote” in favor.  In addition, if I purchase a product that requires immoral harm to the earth for its production, then I support such a process, thus I “vote” in favor.  And so, while many more examples could be listed, the general idea is clear: Each and every day we cast a vote, because – by definition – each and every day we support products and processes of production that shape our world. 

With these thoughts in mind, we recognize that our economic choices serve as “daily votes” that mold our future.  As a result, if we delve deeper into the complex and interrelated nature of production, consumption, and waste within our globalized economic structure, we recognize that our daily votes are often far more influential than anything we do on Election Day.  And so, because of the public consequences of our personal preferences and priorities, as people of faith we are challenged to look beyond ourselves and ensure that our personal budgets embody our beliefs. 

When we claim that Jesus prophetically and passionately served the needs of those impoverished and exploited, then our personal budgets should embody such beliefs, thus our daily votes should advocate for the poor and marginalized of society.  In addition, when we affirm God as creator of the Earth and sustainer of our universal community, then our personal budgets should embody such beliefs, thus our daily votes should exemplify faithful stewardship of God’s creation.  All together, when we claim that Jesus came among us to bring God’s freedom from all that enslaves, then our budgets of time, talents, and resources should embody such beliefs, thus our daily votes should be cast in favor of all-liberating dignity-giving causes that promote the fullness of life. 

As Election Day draws closer, we can safely assume that much attention will be given to the formal act of voting, for the choices made at the ballot box will indeed impact our world for generations to come.  However, while November 6th is critically important, we should not forget the reality that each and every day we cast numerous important votes, for the world is our ballot box, and our daily votes shape the world in ways often far greater than anything we do on Election Day.  And so, as people of faith who trust in the life-giving Good News of Jesus, may we display faithfulness and integrity on November 6th, but may we also ensure that our budgets embody the Gospel that we dare to believe.  Since each day involves consumption, production, and waste, we recognize that God “gives us this day our daily vote”, and these daily votes shape the world and mold our future.  And so, may we cast our daily votes with wisdom and strength, and with budgets that embody beliefs, may we vote in favor of the collective benefit of our global common good.