Friday, February 3, 2017

Who Represents Me? A Catholic Reflection on the #Politics in the USA

by Kathy Vestermark, Prof. at CDU and Mother of 6. US Correspondent of Catholic News World.
I have never watched so much news in my life!


Or, discussed the issues with so much passion before.

Or, read so many political opinions.

Or, tested so many political opinions against the teachings of my Church.

I find so much opposition to common sense and civility.

Even discussion of the upcoming Superbowl is riddled with political overtones: Brady and Trump supportsecurity heightened at the stadium; negative fan reactions, etc.

What on earth is going on?

I thought I lived in a country where differing opinions were welcomed; maybe compromise can't be met, but the ability to voice a contrary view has always been a constitutional right protected by the 1st Amendment.

I have never had this much interest in the workings of my government before. It's like not being able to look away from a serious car accident and wondering if it could have been avoided while hoping that everyone involved will be ok. Maybe that's part of the issue for me: Do I have a sense of guilt about the current state of our Constitutional Republic?

I'll tell you what I've done over the last several years, and you decide whether I should acknowledge this sense of guilt.

1. I made a conscious decision early on with my husband that our children would not enter into the public indoctrination system (my very strong opinion should be clear here -- I don't think what happens in public schools should be called education, especially with the emphasis on agenda based information,  "teaching to the test", and the ratcheting up of questionable sexual rhetoric-- only three of myriad examples.)

2. After many years of watching Catholic Schools bow to the Federal Blue Ribbon Program for validation of their curriculum, I bailed and took my children home. While I loved that we were in an environment where God was taught, I didn't want the Federal Government to have any level of influence on the way my Catholic teaching was imparted to my children. Buh-bye.

3. I Marched for Life -- and **GASP** brought my children with me! That's right. Every year, peacefully -- no riots, no breaking windows, no setting fires, no vulgar hats/costumes. Nope. None of that. Just smiles, rosaries and a walk past the Supreme Court. A couple of years back, a counter protest was removed by the police because they were impeding the progress of the March and causing disruption...(there were 500,000+ of us who were peaceful in our civil protest, while about 8-10 of those who opposed our views caused a situation that resulted in arrests...hmmm.)

4. I taught my children History, Science, Composition, Literature, Grammar, Religion, Math, Latin, Handwriting, Art, etc. I infused our belief system throughout the curriculum and always encouraged discussion and debate. I taught my children to evaluate, to research, and to care about what was being presented to them. I taught my children to think, to critique and to trust but verify. I am the primary educator of my children in both faith and academics before any outside source (CCC 2221-2230). I taught my children to think. And, of course, my husband supported and encouraged this effort.

5. I was blessed to be able to enroll my children in a private Catholic School that supports what we valued most in education -- that ability to think in an environment that teaches both faith and personal character. Obedience is expected, but creativity is not stifled. They are not seen to be in opposition. Obedience opens the door to true freedom. This is Catholic teaching: "By deviating from the moral law man violates his own freedom, becomes imprisoned within himself, disrupts neighborly fellowship, and rebels against divine truth" (CCC 1740).

6. I have contacted State Representative, Congressmen and Senators, members of the Board of Education, Federal officials, signed petitions. I have prayed for our government, our society, our religious freedom, our Church, other religions, our family and friends, etc. I have prayed with my family outside of abortion clinics. I didn't scream my issues but wrote letters expressing my concerns clearly and cogently. I spoke with respect to people who disagreed with me in the interest of having an intelligent conversation where both sides could share their opinions with dignity. (Notice: no fires, axes, pepper spray necessary.)

7. I voted consistently for people that I believed would represent my values and convictions. I didn't get much satisfaction in that regard for more than a decade or so. (I made no threats, but made sure to up my activity in #6.)

8. I could go on and on. But, I won't because this is sounding braggadocious, which is NOT what I wish to emphasize at all. I know many people who have done these things, as well. I am not alone in my efforts.

The point of this is that I can't think of what else I could have done. So I continue to discern: Have I done everything I can to help? Am I helping now?

Do any of you find yourself thinking the same way?

It's a terrible place to be. I have made every effort to be a faithful, patriotic American, a good Catholic wife and mother; to wait out the administrations that didn't fully align with what I believed. And in a way that was representative of the rich history of our country, I accepted that leadership until such time as it would change.

And, what am I met with when the tables are turned and the outcome of this election wasn't what others wanted or even expected?

Crying!
Safe Spaces!
Coloring Books!

then...

Violence!
Vulgarity!
Threats!

...and on, and on, and on...

It's disturbing, but not surprising based on how our culture has been churning around us. The culture of death has done nothing if not gain incredible support over the last four decades.

The result: no one who voted for this change is permitted to enjoy their victory because bullies (from the anti-bullying camp) have decided that they won't allow it. They speak peace and tolerance, but exude none toward people who disagree with them. This is a sign of how we have devolved as a society. It's a statement about what our culture represents today.

And, this is not reflective of me, or anyone I know, at all. Yet here I stand, with many of my friends, even after peaceful and respectful efforts to express discontent with the way things in our country had been progressing. Where do our values fit in this culture?

Anarchists don't represent me. Hollywood doesn't represent me. Feminists don't represent me. Whiny college students don't represent me. Democrats don't represent me. Republicans don't represent me.

Who represents me?

Who represents you?

We are in a situation that is leaving innumerable people uncomfortable and various others violently disruptive.

This administration has only just begun. I will be watching for productivity, accountability, honesty and transparency. I'll be waiting for the dignity of society to be restored. I will hope that people will wake up and see that the lapse in reason that motivates them to destroy property, hurt people, and create chaos in an expression of distress for not getting their way. The mob mentality does no good and only serves to make our country appear unstable and impotent as a leader in the world. That is not who we are, is it?

I will be watching more news than ever before discussing politics and varying political opinions more than ever before, and testing all of it against the teachings of my faith. And, I will be praying for the world and for this administration.

What will you be doing?

How will you help?

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