Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A Politician's Soul

Since entering the world of politics several years ago, I have become every increasingly aware of finding the lack of something that I treasure greatly...


Sure. Everybody talks about politicians and how you can't believe anything they say.
There are plenty of jokes. I thought I'd heard them all.

But on those days where it was really just me and them, it grew glaringly obvious.

When a friend of mine decided to run for public office, she privately told me, "You know, I've become a different person since I started campaigning. I no longer just say what I really believe and think. I screen it to make it what this person wants to hear. I hardly know who I am anymore, because I'm saying stuff that really isn't me or anything I care about."

Or as I overheard a conversation between two good friends in the Capitol one afternoon:
Person 1: "Did you really mean that?!"
Person 2: (hushed tones) "Of course, I didn't mean any of that. You can ask me about anything I say inside this building as soon as we walk out tonight and I'll tell you if I meant any of it."

Or, as another high-ranking politician who is currently campaigning across our state for statewide office so aptly put it to a colleague (who asked if he could actually deliver on a big promise): "Sometimes you just have to tell people whatever they want to hear, even if you know it's not true."

That same person is someone I once thought to be fairly truthful and ethical. Many, many events showed me not only is he not truthful, but he's a natural at lying through his teeth.

He and I have had a number of uncomfortable conversations over the past year, as I have called him out on several things that he has done. My illusion of him as a "good guy" was shattered long ago, but it's hard to know what to say to my friends who don't know otherwise. It's hard to know what to say to him when approaches me.

I want to be honest and frank with him and tell him exactly what I think of his actions behind the scenes, rather than being a smiling, hand-shaking fake. But something holds me back.

Is it the fact that he is one of the highest governmental officials and one of the most powerful people in our state? Or is it the fact that so many people have warned me not to become his enemy "because he could do a lot to hurt you"? Or is it because I believe that he already knows in his heart of hearts what kind of a person he is and my saying something wouldn't do any good?

These are questions that I have pondered for months. I wrote him a long letter, but then I never mailed it. I still look at it often and wonder if I should revise it and just put it in the mail. Then other days, when I hear something about him through the rumor mill, I am grateful that I haven't sent it yet.

He called me again just last week. At first, when I saw it was him calling, I ignored the call, because I didn't feel prepared to talk with him after all that had transpired between us in recent months. But I answered when he called back later, wanting to know what I thought of him and who I was supporting in the election. I gave him a lot of vague answers, and told him that I didn't know who to trust anymore.

I acted like a politician. I wish I could have just been honest. But I don't think it would have been wise to make him mad by speaking the full truth, and neither does any other wise person that I've asked.

I know some people hate him for his deceitfulness and back-stabbing, but I don't at all. His ways are nauseating, but I wish I could respect him, believe him, trust him, as he again begged me to last week.

I feel compassion for him, knowing that his life is one of pretense and a thick crust that few can penetrate. His friends are probably, as my friend said the other day, "A bunch of fake people like him."

I remember a conversation with him a couple of years ago. I was talking to him about where he went to church. After telling me where, he chuckled and said, "But don't think I go there for any significant reason. Its just more like a community function and a tradition...not because it means anything to me!"

I have to wonder, does he ever think like the Psalmist, "No man cared for my soul?"
Does he wonder if anyone would even care about him if he wasn't powerful and influential? Does he ever wish he could just be real and leave these uncomfortable robes of pretense off? Does he ever wish that he could stop making speeches about things he doesn't mean?

I want the opportunity to appeal to him as someone who genuinely cares about him and his soul. He knows that if anyone knows some of the rotten things he's done, I do. He says that he cares greatly about what I think about him. I don't know if that's true at all or not. But, on some level maybe he wishes someone would just be honest with him. Maybe he wishes someone would just tell him that he can stop pretending and admit that he needs a Source of Truth that is bigger than himself.
I'm sure he's sick of being a smiling, hand-shaking fake.

Maybe he isn't sick enough of himself to repent - to quit - to walk the other direction, straight to the Cross of forgiveness. But maybe he is.

My prayer is that he will find himself sick of the ugliness of his deceitful heart and that he will want something genuinely good - the God of Heaven and Eternity - in his life.

If you think of him, will you join me in praying for his soul?

1 comment:

Laurel said...

I have been, Mary, and yet I needed the reminder to be more faithful. It's easy to forget what a big God we have.