As the pennant races in baseball wind down, the political race between Senator Barack Obama and Senator John McCain heats up. I listen to both men closely. This election is a "big deal" for our country, I believe.
One news channel (I probably ought to watch more baseball and less 24 hour news channels!) has a habit of putting video clips of both men speaking side by side. It allows us to listen to both men "in their own words."
I keep listening.
I keep listening for the "S" word.
I keep listening for the word "sacrifice."
But I haven't heard it. Or, if it has been spoken, I have missed it. Both candidates tell us what we want to hear...they both go through a litany of needs and tell us they will see the government does something to meet our needs...satisfy our wants. I am waiting for one of these two men to get honest enough, to respect the American people enough, that they will say something like this: "We are facing great challenges, and those challenges -whether in education, the revitalization of our great cities, the rebuilding of healthy family life, the battle against fundamentalist terrorism, the recovery of our economy, the threat of global warming- can be overcome but only if we are all willing to sacrifice. So I am challenging you -all of us- to think beyond our own narrow interests and look to the greater good. All of us are going to have to give up things we want, all of us are going to have to give, or we aren't going to make it."
The ironic thing is that sacrifice turns out -in the end- to be selfish. When we are willing to sacrifice so that cities can be rebuilt, terrorists can be overwhelmed by a vision of justice and a global community committed to peace, families can be healthy and functional, and the planet can heal then we will have done something good for ourselves...and our grandchildren...and their grandchildren. Sacrifice turns out to be a selfish thing (in the very best sense of the word).
Selfishness leads to short-sighted answers that please us today but turn out to be no answers at all!
Paul, in Philippians 2, encourages us to look not just to our own selfish interests but to the interests of others. Doing our best to copy a certain Jewish carpenter from Nazareth by the name of Jesus.
Okay, Senator McCain and Senator Obama: we're waiting. Do something risky. Try something bold. Don't tell us what we want to hear but tell us what we need to hear. Take a deep breath and speak the "S" word. We can take it. We're big boys and girls. There is more to us than you think.