Susan Eisenhower has recently written a book about her grandfather, Dwight D. Eisenhower, entitled “How Ike Led: The Principles Behind Eisenhower’s Biggest Decisions.”
Cal Thomas recently reviewed the book in one of his columns and referenced Susan’s admiration for what she called Ike’s pursuit of “the middle way.” In the book is this quote from a letter that Eisenhower wrote to a friend in California in 1954.
“I developed a practice which, so far as I know, I have never violated. The practice is to avoid public mention of any name unless it can be done with favorable intent and connotation; reserve all criticism for the private conference; speak only good in public.”
While Thomas expressed his respect and appreciation for the late President, saying he demonstrated “good character,” and his method worked in the military, didn’t believe his approach was successful in the political arena.
Cal writes, ”There’s a cliché about sports: ‘It’s not whether you win or lose; it’s how you play the game.’”
“In politics it’s about winning, and if you don’t win, how you played the game won’t matter.”
During the next 63 days until the November 3rd until the Presidential election the game is going to get rough and tough. The players will get down in the trenches trying to deliver their best blow. There will be some really hard hits. No flags will be thrown for unsportsmanlike conduct.
We’re bound to hear a lot of name calling. There will be charges. And counter charges. The venom and vitriol will spew forth from both parties. People will be unfairly labeled. Positions will be assigned that the other party disavows. And does anyone believe every ad is going to be accurate? Incriminating innuendoes will abound. Truth will be sidelined. And lies will fly through the airwaves.
The challenge for Christians, especially those who feel compelled to publicly express support for their candidate, will be to live, speak and act on a higher plane. Not to hurl sarcastic insults. Not to speak contemptuously of your brothers and sisters in Christ. Not to engage in nasty-name calling. Not to post disparaging remarks about others on social media. And not to display a hostile and hateful attitude toward those with whom we disagree.
While I understand there are issues of paramount importance facing us today, and moral matters that are on the ballot, we don’t get a pass from “speaking the truth in love” (Eph 4:16). No matter how serious we deem the political choices, we’re not exempt from showing mercy. Demonstrating compassion. And treating others with respect.
Jesus’ principle, called the golden rule, applies even during elections. “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 7:12).
What if we applied these two Bible passages in all our interactions with others, including facebook posts, regarding political issues?
“Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:31-32).
“Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Col 4:5-6).
Emulating the current culture of political discourse is not conducive to our Christian influence in the world. Instead let’s emulate Christ. Let’s rise above the fray. Let’s do better. And be better.
The world is watching us. What will they see? And what will they hear?
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman