“He who cannot draw on three thousand years is living from hand to mouth.”
The Republican Party Platform: Small government/big business (read: caring for the rich), low taxes, sole personal responsibility, militant, and apparent disdain for the idea of empathy (“You be da man, Michael Steele!” to paraphrase the nut job Congresswoman from Minnesota, Michelle Bachmann)
The Democratic Party Platform: Equal rights, social programming, fair wages (read: caring for the poor), healthcare reform, education, non-militant, peace-promoting, government responsibility, “radical” social activism.
So… it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to decipher which of these two parties Jesus of Nazareth would have belonged to in today’s day in age, right?
Wrong. Yet again, the Republican party still hasn’t gotten it. Since they seem to believe that they are the party of morality, the party which “claimed” Christianity some time ago.
While on some level this has always perplexed me, it is becoming more and more obvious to me in light of all of the war, torture, economic corruption, etc. thrown in our faces every time we turn on the television that this is the case– that in a sick twist of irony, the party that has attempted to build itself on Christian ideals and morals has become the antithesis of the teachings of Jesus Christ.
I can’t understand how people who belong to a party who cry out over women who have been raped having abortions, who oftentimes appear giddy with excitement over the prospect of impending war (read: death, destruction, annihilation of families, despair, etc.), and who get more riled up over taxes and economic wealth than any other single political issue, is also supposedly the party which embodies the morals and teachings of Jesus Christ, one of the most peaceful, loving, empathetic, unselfish people who probably ever walked the Earth.
I find myself thinking, “Do the Republicans actually, on any level, understand the man they label as their savior?”
When Jesus Christ became a well-known figure in his time, people very obviously admired him and looked up to him as a type of savior. However, he was not exactly the savior they were expecting.
During Jesus’ time, Palestine was under the rule of the Romans, who had imposed their culture and laws on the Jews. While the Jews were “tolerated” and they were generally allowed to practice their religion, they understandably wanted to Romans out. Over time, the people began to look for a “savior” of political and military nature, to run the Romans out so they would once again enjoy the political control and religious freedom they once had. Upon the advent of Jesus’ teachings, people did see him as a savior of sorts, but not necessarily what they had expected. What is important here, is although they were not seeking a man to “save” them in the way Jesus preached of, there was something about this man that caught everyone’s attention. While the obvious answer is his religious role, the other half of that which most people don’t seem to pay enough attention to is the fact that he was peaceful, simple, loving, compassionate, and forgiving to the extent that he was seen as radical. In fact, his persecution was in all likelihood not a direct manifestation of his religious teachings, rather, the fact that his teachings were at odds with so many interests and power factors– the priests, lawyers, scribes, etc. This did not sit well with those in power, this radical out there, exposing politicians’ hypocrisy, and suggesting that all people, in the end, answer to a power much greater than that of those with any political power in their day.
Again, what’s important here is that Jesus was persecuted and killed because he (God forbid!) promoted peace, unconditional understanding and forgiveness of others (who are ALL brothers and sisters, united as children of God), and care for the poor. Before Jesus, the law operated on something more in-line with the old “eye for an eye” mentality. Among Jesus’ “radical” teachings were loving one’s neighbor as thyself, “neighbors” including: the poor, the imprisoned, the sick, the disabled, the foreigner, the enemy, the sinners, and the imprisoned…
Part of what made Jesus so important is how he was able to radically change the broader social context of political and social thought. He turned the military war cries into social and political cries of justice, peace, and compassion for all people walking the Earth. He was a genius of his time, and whether you believe he was the Son of God or not, there is no denying that his life, or the story of his life, had a lasting impact on the way we understand the social and political context of our time. A true social activist, Jesus preached of things that are very much in-line with the political platform of today’s Democratic Party.
As of now, the Republican party is defined roughly by the championing of torture, war, greed, hate, intolerance, and inequality– and their defamation is rooted mostly in the fact that they are are different from them, and since they can’t understand it, or more likely don’t even try to, they become the new enemy.
It is my firm believe, that if Jesus Christ were to descend from the heavens today and take one look at the exploitation of his name and teachings for the interests of those with the most wealth and power, he would not only be ashamed and disgusted, but pissed off beyond belief. You want to talk about taking his name in vain? How about killing and torturing his children, creating a social and political structure which makes it nearly impossible for factions of the world to ever find their way out of extreme poverty and suffering, and astronomical levels of lying, deception, and corruption… all pushed forward using HIS NAME as a pawn in their master plan? I think it’s safe to say he might whip out the ol’ fire and brimstone to teach them all a nice little lesson.
Today’s Republican Party is (sadly) relying solely on the ancient tactics of the Romans in Jesus’ time– slandering those who promote peace, compassion, and understanding for those who are unlike us as “radicals” and painting them as “dangerous” figures who will destroy everything they have come to know. Of course, they are correct in that these “radical” ideals have the potential ability to change everything on such a large scale it WILL change things forever. What is especially troubling to me, is how a) anyone in this day in age could think this could possibly be a bad thing, and b) how people are still falling for this nonsense.
Perhaps the next time a Republican politician walks out to the pulpit, prepared to give his campaign speech appealing to neo-conservative hatred and vilification of outsiders, when senators cast their vote for or against healthcare reform, or when CIA operatives and government interrogators walk into a jail cell contemplating which path they should take in obtaining that oh-so-important information, perhaps they should ask themselves one simple question:
What Would Jesus Do?