Friday, January 21, 2011

Left/Right - Herding Cats

Earlier today, I posted a conservative perspective on the issues of Democrats and Republicans, which is really more easily described as left versus right.  In Canada, we have the Liberals and the Conservatives, though with two other major parties, the left/right gets a little more muddled.  Father Clement Agamba, a native of Ghana assured me in a note today that in Ghana it is also the same, where they have, as he said, the "National Democratic Congress who see themselves as social democrats, and National Patriotic Party, who believe in the individual working to create wealth for himself/herself."  He also noted that this condition exists in all democracies around the world.

"Left wing" and "right wing" as terms to define political orientations first began with the French Revolution, where in the Estates General in France, the liberal deputies, members of the Third Estate, who were most interested in reform and revolution sat to the left of the president's chair.  Those of the Second Estate, which comprised the nobility of France, were most interested in preservation, conservation of the status quo, counter revolutionaries, as it were.

It is interesting to note the matter of Estates in France.  The First Estate, omitted above, were in fact, the clergy of the day, where the Bishops were the higher clergy, and parish priests and other religious were considered the lower clergy.  But, moving on.

Father Clement in his homily today spoke of the 12 disciples, who Jesus picked to follow and become his apostles.  Were they all carbon copies of each other?  No, in truth they were not.  In their midst was Matthew, a tax collector.  A tax collector was an outcast.  After all he robbed the poor to give to the rich, and was on the payroll to do so.  No fancy IRS code, or Income Tax Act at his side.  Things were a little more spontaneous for tax grabbing in those days. 

And too, there was Simon the Zealot. The zealots as Father Clement explained in his note to me, and at Mass this morning, were nationalists. So, for Simon a nationalist to be called to come together with Matthew, a source of revenue for the occupying Romans is a stretch.  But, we know it happened.  By the grace of God, these two men from opposite ends of the spectrum became two of those who carried on the work of Christ on this earth.

Imagine how lively discussions between these two must have been in the early going.  Natural enemies.  Then, of course throw in the other ten, including the two sons of Zebedee, James and John, called in today's Gospel, "Sons of Thunder".   A number of years ago, our parish priest at St. Joseph's Parish in London Ontario was Father Jim Williams.  He was called Father "Tiny" Williams, though he was 6'4"tall.  Somehow, I don't get the feeling that the Sons of Thunder were shy and retiring sorts, so they would have added to the mix.

Jesus was the first recorded herder of cats in history. 

If we look at the desires of the liberal leaning members of our society, not with a jaundiced eye, but rather attempted to understand what it is they believe, those of us who are conservative in our leanings might learn something new.  If the liberal leaning members of our society were to look, without prejudice at what conservatives are interested in, again something new might be learned.

But, most of us are too committed to positions to listen to reason, or to engage in meaningful dialogue.  A televised presidential candidate or party leader debate during elections in the USA or Canada, does not qualify as sharing of beliefs and listening to each other.

But, there is a small wind of change happening here in the US next week.  Republican and Democratic members of the House of Representatives will be intermingled for the State of the Union address by President Obama.  We would be cautious to not see this as a kiss and make up occasion, where bygones will be bygones, but it is as opportunity for some fence mending, and some sharing of thoughts.

At election times, the will of the people surfaces to a small extent, but often gets blurred by political rhetoric and character assassination ads on television and in other media.  The ads remind me so much of the family squabbles between siblings that happened in our family, and I hazard a guess, in yours.  "Mom, she hit me."  "Mom, he hit me first."  "Did not."  "Did too."  You get the picture. 

And so, the collective might of nations to govern themselves in the interest of the people gets lost, in childish power struggles and bickering.

Jesus knew how to make men of different backgrounds and leanings work together, even with their free wills.  He gave us His Authority to use here on earth, to continue his work, to make the Kingdom of Heaven remain at hand.  A successful marriage is the uniting of a man and a woman, and there is nothing more different than men and women, forging a unity out of their differences in love for each other.

Can we learn something from marriage, and from Jesus selection of the Apostles, that we can apply to the political realm in our two great North American nations, to quell the rancor and back biting that pervades our political climates?

As a humorous aside, here is a commercial shot a few years back about herding cats.  If they can do it, we can too.

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