I COULD WATCH only through splayed fingers recently when a gritty Netflix series Marcia and I are following featured an ugly cockfighting scene. I was horrified by it all: the squawking, the flying feathers, the blood-lusty, twisted faces of the cheering and jeering crowd. It all had a disturbingly familiar feel to it.
Ah yes. But as we turn from poultry to politics, I am hoping that wherever you stand, we can agree on two things. The presidential debates have been far from debates and anything but presidential.
Rather they have been exercises in exaggeration, distortion, misrepresentation, and name-calling. The only thing to even remotely applaud has been each candidate’s singular determination to say what they wanted to regardless of the actual question. My view: rather than elect either of them to the White House, we’d do better to send them both to the dog house.
The contest has become like some sort of Zombie Apocalypse nightmare; they have run around biting chunks out of each other, and we have all somehow gotten infected. Many of the social media comments I have read by supporters of both sides have made the contestants’ own awful barbs seem civil in comparison.
While I don’t side with either camp, I’ve noticed in my comments about the contest a tendency toward harshness in the way I speak, a judgmental tone. I know I am not alone. I fear that long after the dust has settled in the 2016 race for the Oval Office—when, I confidently predict despite dire warnings otherwise, the world will continue to spin on its axis—we’ll all still be limping.
Without minimizing the importance of looking for honesty, character, and temperament in those we allow to positions of leadership, the same qualities are pretty important for those of us in followship too. Sadly, we seem willing to accept a different standard for ourselves.
So while you continue to evaluate the candidates in the final days before polling, why not join me in directing some of your questions of them inward.
Have I ever said something I shouldn’t have? A cutting remark. A prejudiced comment. An insensitive aside. An inappropriate joke. If so, what have I done about that?
Have I ever done something I shouldn’t have? Lied to cover my……self. Exaggerated. Dissembled. Ignored. Insulted. Avoided. Cheated. Stolen. Hurt. If so, what have I done about that?
Have I ever changed my mind? If so, this could require an apology and an explanation: “I was wrong.” Or conversely, it might be a sign of maturity, acknowledging your ability to learn and grow, rather than be an indication of maneuvering.
We should expect high standards from those who would hold high office. But we should require the same of ourselves. Without some serious self-reflection, our bloodied chickens may come home to roost.
Photo credit: romsrini via Foter.com/CC BY-NC-ND