Why do I vote? Who do I vote for?
The usual answers to the “why I vote ” question are
- It’s a privilege
- It’s an honor
- It’s my responsibility
- I can exert influence on politicians
Beyond that, voting causes me to clarify what I believe and take a stand for it. It tells me something about myself. I want to be shrewd, not stupid or naive, i.e, lacking in experience, judgment, or information.
Though I might lack experience in politics, I can become informed and learn how to make wise judgments. In making decisions about who to vote for, I consider more than presidential debates.
Here are some questions I ask myself when answering the “who do I vote for” question?
- Do I think through what I believe and why I believe it?
- Or I let others choose for me?
- Do I take into account the character of the candidate or do I disregard it?
- Do I consider all of the issues or just pick my favorite one?
- Must I vote totally for one party or could I split my vote?
- If my friends or family are strongly in favor of one candidate or party do I automatically vote with them?
- If I vote differently, am I willing to share that decision?
- What place does my faith have in determining how I vote?
As the above Proverb tells us, there’s a danger in being naïve. We have a tendency to take shortcuts and to make quick judgments and hasty decisions without thoughtfully examining evidence and asking pertinent questions.
We can be tricked into believing safe people are dangerous and dangerous people are safe. How do we know who is safe and who is not?
Jesus compared people to sheep. He was called the “Good Shepherd”. He displayed his goodness in the way he treated people and in the way he honored Our Father in heaven. He lived a life of perfect love and integrity, truthful in all his interactions and fair in all his decisions.
He warned us about people who claim they are “good” but are actually thieves. He called them “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” He did not say, “Beware of sheep in wolves’ clothing” because a sheep never wears a wolf’s clothing. Sheep are not out to deceive people. They’re just set on following a path and they need guidance in order to find the right path. They need a shepherd.
When Jesus looked at the crowds of people in the world around him, he said that they were like sheep without a shepherd. I don’t think much has changed since his day. The world is full of sheep. Sheep can easily be deceived. They need a shepherd.
That shepherd needs to be a safe person. A safe person is someone with integrity. Someone who never deceives us. Someone who always tells the truth. Someone who is patient, kind, and good. Someone who does not expect perfection. Someone who does not condemn us when we fall down. Someone who walks beside us and helps us recognize dangers, not only points them out but teaches us to recognize the dangers ourselves. Someone who teaches us how to have discernment.
We need to ask questions. Appearances can be deceiving. A safe shepherd does not go around comparing one sheep with other sheep. They are all equally cared for and protected. He or she does not condemn sheep. He or she does not go around causing divisions among the sheep. A safe shepherd brings sheep together and teaches them to live in peace, unity, and understanding.
Because his or her self-worth is settled, a safe shepherd confidently makes decisions. He or she is not looking for approval or even acceptance. Nor is a safe shepherd hungry for power or control. A safe shepherd has control of his or her own life, shows us how to gain control of ourselves, and assists us in escaping the control of abusive shepherds.
When I look at the world today, I’m concerned. I see a lot of naïve sheep and very few safe shepherds. Yet I do not despair because Jesus is still alive. As we look to him, listen to his words, and follow the guidance of the Spirit he has given us, we will gain discernment and not be deceived by wolves dressed as shepherds.