Overcoming the Reasons To Not Vote
It is easy to hang an attitude of self-righteousness on the issues. It is a narrow path between obedience and attack.
Are the issues really the issues?
That 24 Million Christians, who were registered, chose not to vote in the last election highlights a critical issue for this election cycle. Those of us who profess our faith, find it difficult, if not impossible, to integrate that faith into the culture around us as invested cultural partners. Yet, without that faith being expressed, how do fulfill our duty toward being a moral ballast for our government?
In the previous article I mentioned 7 reasons why these 24 Million professed people of faith might not have voted. Here, I want to present antidotes for those 7 reasons.
The 7 reasons why 24 Million Christians may have chosen not to vote were:
- Apathy – You don’t know why your vote matters and you don’t care. It’s more work than it’s worth to you to figure out how to vote.
- Fear – Rather than risk relationships or discomfort you may have decided that getting along is more important than truth or you may not really believe there is such a thing as truth worth defending.
- Ignorance – Not knowing or understanding what is at stake, let alone the Biblical principles involved, you withdraw to the safety of the sidelines.
- Disobedience – You are simply disinterested. You realize the sacred right and scriptural impetus you have but your personal comfort and ease is more important than your duties of citizenship.
- Overwhelmed – Not only do you not have any personal space in the calendar of your life you don’t even have a way to make sense out of everything.
- Discouragement – You have voted before and things didn’t go your way.
- Confusion – Truth and importance are not easily discerned.
A Personal Story
The first time I flew into the EAA AirVenture at the Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the experience was laced with all the excitement any adventurous pilot could want. At the time the primary instruction for an arriving airplane was to fly to the visual landmark of ‘the gravel quarry’ (a very small quarry at that time from the air) and report your position at the quarry on the given frequency with the make and color of your aircraft.
It was simple enough on paper and as part of the flight plan. We had set out from Wichita, Kansas, earlier that day in a brand new red and white Cardinal R/G. It had been a beautiful flight over the rolling fields of Iowa. Our arrival was planned to coincide with the end of that evening’s air show when the airport would again open. Combined with the opening of the airport and declining visibility, the hundreds of other aircraft and pilots that appeared at the quarry at the same instance as I did was frightening and overwhelming.
Up until this time, with the exception of a few landings in open fields, I had always enjoyed the security of very clear landing instructions and liberal spacing between my aircraft and others. This day was an alarming exception to that rule. I was in what felt like a spontaneous remake of the movie, ‘Tora! Tora! Tora!
Shortly after reporting my position at the quarry and following the directions received for entering the landing pattern this came over my radio: “This is Tower. Everyone go around! Someone’s going to get killed. Everyone go back to the quarry and start over.”
What I thought was chaos suddenly burst into even more chaos as hundreds of airplanes of all sizes and speeds broke in all directions for a single point of re-entry into the flight pattern. Warbirds, multi-engine, single engine, and experimental airplanes from all directions and an infinite variety of altitudes wanted to occupy the single point of re-entry above that quarry. I wasn’t the only pilot in sensory overload. The flight controllers themselves sounded on the verge of hysteria. If all I’ve mentioned so far wasn’t enough, the visibility was deteriorating fast. The cloud ceilings were lowering. Darkness was setting in. I was running low on fuel.
I was able to land in the chaos without incident but many others, some with more experience than I, did not. I saw wings dip into the ground and twist airplanes around abruptly, the propellers of big warbirds chomp into the dirt, and landing gear folding under out of control airplanes. A typical day at Oshkosh.
That moment is where we are in this election time. There is much anticipation but for the present moment the goal is unclear and uncertain. The way forward seems threatening and dangerous. Those in control, aren’t. If I had responded to my situation with any of the 7 reasons the 24 Million Christians chose not to vote, I would likely not have survived that trip to return the following year.
Here are seven antidotes for a situation like this.
1. Antidote to Apathy – Care
Apathy is fatal at any altitude. Particularly that altitude at which the airplane transitions from the air to the ground. All the governing laws of motion for an aircraft change at that moment. The airplane hasn’t fully quit being an airplane but hasn’t committed to being a ground vehicle. Apathy at that point is fatal. The pilot must care deeply about the state of his airplane at that point or he simply becomes a missile.
Apathy is truly difficult to overcome. I mean, who cares? If you don’t care enough to engage in this privilege of citizenship will you care when everything you value has been turned on it’s head, including your privilege of not caring? Count the cost of apathy and see if concern begins to register. What privileges, securities, or comforts would you sorely miss if they are not protected by your vote?
2. Antidote to Fear – Courage
Courage is not simply ignoring fear. It is continuing to do the right things in spite of fear. As the pilot of my Cardinal R/G that day, I could not relinquish control to fear. I had to let preparation guide me to a safe landing: safe for me and safe for those around me.
Respect and concern for others is healthy. The discomfort of disagreement or debate and discussion is primarily rooted in insecurity: insecurity in knowledge and insecurity in relationship. Fear says that if others disagree with you, you don’t belong. Be strong and courageous. Over and over, when a person is given an overwhelming or unpopular task, scripture records words from the lips of Heaven, “Be strong and courageous.” Courage does what is right; what is needed; not what is popular. Be strong and courageous by knowing Whose opinion you represent.
3. Ignorance – Knowledge
Weeks before I filed my flight plan to Oshkosh, I meticulously studied the airport, the approach and the NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) published for that occasion. It was 32 pages outlining all arrival and/departure procedures, radio frequencies, Wittman Regional Airport details, and much more. I trusted that the hundreds of other airmen had also studied and learned the procedures necessary for a safe arrival. I read every article I could find that described how to not only keep from embarrassing myself but to keep from dieing.
The cure for ignorance is knowledge and trust. Learn what you can. What you can’t learn, find someone, some source, that best aligns with the values of your Biblical worldview and follow them. Always test them. Sometimes they get lost in the heat of single issue battles. From a party perspective, familiarize yourself with their platforms (click here for a list of parties and a summary of what they represent and for a copy of their platform http://2016election.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=005928). The parties each state clearly their intentions on their platforms.
4. Disobedience – Obedience
Had I disregarded the mandate to prepare for my arrival at Oshkosh I could have easily been responsible for destroying the lives of others. As much as I had prepared, had only one of the hundreds of other pilots been disobedient in their preparation, disaster would have been certain.
Disobedience goes beyond apathy. Apathy is not caring enough to know or understand. Apathy is comfortable with ignorance. Disobedience describes you if you know but do not act. It is apathy on steroids. Stop it! You represent God in the world. Neither Apathy nor Disobedience is the calling of a marketplace disciple. The only antidote to disobedience is the simple stepping into the right things you know to do.
5. Overwhelmed – Order
With hundreds of aircraft swirling in all directions and altitudes coupled with never having been to Oshkosh and the lowering visibility was certainly overwhelming. There is no place to pull over and check the map or take a break. In spite of the controller’s panic stricken command to everyone to abort their approach, order was re-established by accomplishing the next most important step. We were given a reference point to navigate to and from. Although we came from almost every direction, we all proceed from that point in a single direction predetermined by the desired result: a safe landing. Additional distractions were encountered as we flew over water at our lowest speed in order not to overtake the even slower aircraft in front of us – one we could not see until he had made his u-turn from in front of us and passed us in a narrow window of visibility on our right wing as he descended on final approach toward a runway he couldn’t yet see. Order allowed us to conquer one issue at a time and then to respond as new issues arose.
If preparing for this election cycle overwhelms you, join the club. We are all part of this tribe. Night after night the news blasts us with sound bites about candidates and issues. The language is inflammatory and polarizing: it is intended to incite us to action. Unfortunately the information we receive is seldom unbiased and usually not an accurate representation of an issue or a person. It mostly represents the bias of the reporter and the reporting agency. This is true whether it be a conservative or a liberal news source.
If necessary, tune in to a trusted voice that you know has the big picture in view and knows the lay of the land. My Resource and Cheat Sheet Resource Guide may be useful to you. You can download it here.
6. Discouragement – Hope
The flight wasn’t as smooth as I had planned it to be. I couldn’t have anticipated the chaos of that moment in time. I later heard the news reports as that very moment was broadcast around the world as a historically hysterical moment. As discouraging as the controllers pronouncement that we were all going to die was, I had two simple choices: Go back or go ahead. Hope propelled me forward. ‘Hope’ is not ‘wish’. ‘Wish’ is when we want something that we have no reasonable expectation of having it. “I ‘wish’ I had a million dollars.”
Hope on the other looks toward a reasonable expectation and presses on toward it’s goal, even in the face of opposition, distraction or discouragement. I had every reason to believe that if I did the things I was trained to do that I would get the promised results: a safe landing and the time of my life in a week long stay in airplane paradise.
The founding fathers of our country gave us the freedom and process by which we could safeguard our freedoms and participate in our own governance. The process hasn’t been so flawed as the people in it. The flawed people within the process have discouraged many from participating in the process. That has had the effect of relinquishing the process to those who do care enough to put forward and pursue their agendas. We have forsaken representing the agenda of our God so as not to offend theirs. Do not be discouraged, my friends.
7. Confusion – Order
It takes practice to know and do the right thing at the right time. The confusion that tried to erupt that day at Oshkosh was checked by simple truth. Had we all begun to respond to the warning of danger by randomly flying in all directions, the results would have been horrific. The truth was that by following order, this moment of chaos was quickly and easily tamed and catastrophe averted.
We are at a time where all kinds of warnings are being voiced. Some are true. Some are not. That day I could hear conversations from hundreds of radios on that one frequency. Only the voice of the controller and those responding to his directions were what mattered. Knowing his voice allowed me to sort out the questions, comments and distractions of all the other voices and images.
As grim as it may appear in this election cycle, it is the simple basics that matter. What is right and what vote will make the best step toward what is right. We make that choice by our Biblical Worldview, where we hear the voice of the controller.