As we come to the end of the summer season (although we have about a month left), many people are gearing up for the start of school, football, and other fall activities. The scripture readings remind us to “conduct our affairs with humility.” In other words, instead of trying to be the center of attention and the most popular, we should be open to being a worthy servant of God. Be content with taking a backseat or a lower place and allow others to see your gifts and talents. Do your best and let other people promote you. No one likes a person who sings “It’s hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way.” More importantly, the One who ultimately raises us up is the only One who matters. God knows our capabilities and will reward us when we use those talents for doing good.
Over the next few months we will be bombarded with all kinds of literature and advertising on the television and social media extolling the virtues and vices of the candidates for public office. You may even receive mail purporting to come from the Church promoting certain candidates. Check the return address very carefully. Just because it has the words “Catholic” or “Church” does not mean that it came from a diocese or your local parish. Dioceses and parishes do not send out political endorsements. They do not tell you who to vote for. That is a matter of conscience. However, they do invite you to educate yourselves on the candidates and platforms of the political parties.
To this end, I am asking you to study what the parties of the candidates who are running for office actually say. Remember, you are voting for a party, not a candidate. The candidate is supported by his or her party and he or she is obliged to uphold what their party endorses. Therefore, read the political platforms of the Green party (Jill Stein), the Libertarian party (Gary Johnson), the Republican party (Donald Trump) and the Democratic party (Hillary Clinton). GOOGLE the party platforms, read what they say, and inform yourselves on what the candidates stand for.
I would also encourage you NOT to engage in political debate on Facebook or other social media (unless you want to lose friends). However, check out the veracity of what people claim. As Sgt. Friday used to say: “Just the facts, m’am, just the facts.” If something sounds inaccurate or far-fetched, it probably is. Also, remember political rhetoric is just that—rhetoric and posturing. Examine what the candidates have actually done. People say lots of things, but what have they actually accomplished in their lives? Use social media as a tool for gaining ACCESS to information, but do not use memes and political ads as the sole bases for your information.
As faithful citizens of the United States of America, we have an obligation to inform ourselves about the candidates and the parties which endorse them. As Catholics, we have an obligation to pray for the candidates and our country. As faithful Catholic citizens, we have an obligation to VOTE our informed conscience as to which candidate should serve in which capacity. Refusing to inform yourself or deciding not to vote is failing to act as a responsible citizen. When citizens fail to act in a responsible manner, tyranny and anarchy result.
Given all of the political machinations this year, it is imperative that we actively engage in our rights and responsibilities as citizens and educate ourselves prior to voting—then VOTE.