The surprise came from two words cropping up in the exit poll reports. Moral values. The election was hinging on moral values.
Pundits fell off their pedestals. Who knew?
Voters reminded me of the ornery comic character Popeye, who says, “I yam what I yam.”
We act upon what we believe. Our thoughts become deeds. Who we are and what we hold dear dictates what we do and say.
I yam what I yam.
Can’t be separated. A former religion writer in Spokane, Wash., Kelly McBride wrote a column last week on how the media missed the boat in discerning this election emphasis.
“We cover faith and politics as if they are separate, isolated compartments in the lives our of readers and viewers,” wrote McBride, who is now part of the ethics faculty at The Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla.
“In fact, most people live their faith and their politics every moment of every day.”
A lens to the world. McBride’s words reminded me of similar words in a book given to me by reader Bill McChesney of New Galilee, Pa. It was How Now Shall We Live, co-written by Charles Colson, who served in the Nixon White House and later founded Prison Fellowship Ministries.
Near the book’s beginning, Colson explains the term “world view,” which, for me, also helps explain so-called moral values phenomenon.
World view, he says, “is simply the sum total of our beliefs about the world, the ‘big picture’ that directs our daily decisions and actions. What we assume or believe becomes the lens through which we then see everything around us.”
This election, voters put that into action. “I used to vote my pocketbook,” 45-year-old Don Brown told a reporter from The Village Voice at an October rally in D.C. “Now I’m just voting for what’s moral.”
Back to basics. This “moral values” outcry should signal that Joe and Jane Voter are saying “something ain’t right.”
And it’s not red vs. blue; it’s not right vs. left, rather a reality that our society cannot continue down the path it’s headed.
It’s not government; it’s not a dearth of laws, rather the holes in our social values, our morals.
‘Moral values’ may be on the latest political agenda, but it really goes much broader and cannot be defined in terms of the latest Washington spin. We do what we do because, quite simply, it’s the right thing to do.
Be kind. Be polite. Be understanding. Be honest.
Don’t cheat. Don’t lie. Don’t kill.
Help others. Get involved. Care.
President Theodore Roosevelt once said: “The average citizen must be a good citizen if our republics are to succeed. The stream will not permanently rise higher than the main source; and the main source of national power and national greatness is found in the average citizenship of the nation.
“Therefore it behooves us to do our best to see that the standard of the average citizen is kept high; and the average cannot be kept high unless the standard of the leaders is very much higher.”
Popeye’s right. Popeye is a popular character because he’s an underdog, but champions fair play. He takes only so much before he pops Brutus in the jaw to save Olive Oyl.
He finally says, “Tha’s all I can stands, and I can’t stands no more!”
(Editor Susan Crowell can be reached at 1-800-837-3419 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.)