The Election of '88

Dorothy Day once said, "Our problems stem from the acceptance of this filthy, rotten system." It is not the most poetic of all the wisdom uttered by the founder of the Catholic Worker movement, but it does get to the heart of the matter, as Dorothy usually did. Her pointed words are framed and hung in my study, just above my desk, so I can remember them at important times -- like the beginning of another election year.

In 1988 the management of the political system will change hands, but the system will not change. During this election year, that reality should be kept in mind. What could change as a result of the electoral contests this autumn and what most certainly will not should be carefully distinguished. In so doing, we can avoid the pitfalls either of thinking that elections don't change things at all or that they are as important as the media, the political professionals, and the candidates will once again this year have us believe.

To see our problems as rooted in the system itself and not in the succession of politicians and parties who revolve in its management is indeed the beginning of political wisdom. Such a perspective comes not from just being angry at the system, though there is always plenty to be angry about, but rather comes from a careful reading of the Bible.

When biblical values, priorities, and assumptions become our starting point, all other political realities can then be measured accordingly. To think biblically about politics means to cut below the surface of discussion around any issue and get to the heart of the matter. Simply put, to think biblically is to think systemically about our political problems.

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