In a few weeks citizens will choose who serves as president of the United States. As many from all sides of the political spectrum have already recognized, the nationwide decision of Nov. 6 will affect the direction of 50 states – as well as the international community – for generations to come.
Since the opposing candidates offer contrasting views for the future, the choice is indeed critical, thus all are encouraged to listen openly and attentively, critique the various policy positions carefully, and when the first Tuesday of November arrives, make an informed choice for the collective benefit of our global common good.
While one should affirm and appreciate the importance of Election Day, we should also recognize and appreciate our ability to shape society far more frequently than once every four years. While several years pass between presidential elections, we vote for the collective benefit of our global common good on numerous occasions with each passing day.
In reflection upon our communal capacity to vote, some describe the act as directly (and exclusively) related to Election Day. But the act of voting is far broader and more inclusive than the first Tuesday of November every four years, for voting is – by definition – a means by which personal preferences and priorities are publicly promoted. When one takes into account a more expansive definition of voting, we recognize it is an act that takes place on numerous occasions each and every day. On a repeated basis we publicly promote our personal preferences and priorities, which in turn shapes our world.
One way we do this is through economic choices. When I purchase a product, I cast a vote, for my preferences and priorities are made known through my consumption of goods and services. In addition to supporting the company that produced the product I purchased, I also support the process that allowed the particular product to be produced. So if I purchase an item that was produced through immoral labor practices, then I support such practices; therefore, I “vote” in favor. If I purchase a product that requires immoral harm to the earth for its production, then I support such a process; thus I “vote” in favor. And so, while many more examples could be listed, the general idea is clear: Each and every day we cast a vote, because – by definition – each and every day we support products and processes of production that shape our world.
We recognize that our economic choices serve as “daily votes” that mold our future. If we delve deeper into the complex and interrelated nature of production, consumption, and waste within our globalized economic structure, we recognize that our daily votes are often far more influential than anything we do on Election Day. And so, because of the public consequences of our personal preferences and priorities, as people of faith, we are challenged to look beyond ourselves and ensure that our personal budgets embody our beliefs.
When we claim that Jesus prophetically and passionately served the needs of those impoverished and exploited, then our personal budgets should embody such beliefs, thus our daily votes should advocate for the poor and marginalized of society. In addition, when we affirm God as creator of the Earth and sustainer of our universal community, then our personal budgets should embody such beliefs, and our daily votes should exemplify faithful stewardship of God’s creation. When we claim that Jesus came among us to bring God’s freedom from all that enslaves, then our budgets of time, talents, and resources should embody such beliefs, thus our daily votes should be cast in favor of all-liberating, dignity-giving causes that promote the fullness of life.
And so, as people of faith who trust in the life-giving Good News of Jesus, may we display faithfulness and integrity on Nov. 6, but may we also ensure that our budgets embody the Gospel that we dare to believe. Since each day involves consumption, production, and waste, we recognize that God “gives us this day our daily vote,” and these daily votes shape the world and mold our future. May we cast our daily votes with wisdom and strength, and with budgets that embody beliefs, may we vote in favor of the collective benefit of our global common good.
Brian E. Konkol is an ordained pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), serves as Co-Pastor of Lake Edge Lutheran Church (Madison, Wis.), and is a PhD candidate in Theology & Development with the University of KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa).
Photo: Voting booth, Steve Cukrov / Shutterstock.com