Years ago I happened upon a delightful political quiz with four quadrants showing the various philosophies one could hold. Along the vertical y-axis was the Capitalist/Socialist spectrum and on the horizontal x-axis, lay the Conservative/Liberal ideologies.
Upon the four squares were faces of recognizable leaders. I recall Pope John Paul, Hilary Clinton, Ghandi, George W. Bush, Robert Redford, and Darth Vader.
MY TEST RESULTS
I laughed out loud when I saw my results. My political dot stood proudly centered on Darth Vader's mask, in all his totalitarian glory.
Yes, my Independent registered self tested Totalitarian. I was as shocked as you are, if that's any consolation.
Now before you go hating me, listen up! The Pope was right next to him. That's right, slightly more conservative, but just as capitalistic, sat the Pope.
So what does all this mean?
First of all, we must all admit that this test does not fully express one's political viewpoint. It serves as a good laugh. But...
WHAT TESTS LIKE THIS REVEAL
I also must submit the revelation is not without a drop of truth. The test reveals something a bit below the surface. Yes, I may be an idealist totalitarian (with Jesus in charge of course! I think Totalitarian governments would work with a perfect leader, just sayin'). But, it also shows that I am willing to have a laugh at myself. Politics is serious business, but it can be fun too. Over the holidays it's the last thing people want to talk about because of the culture of offense, but I think it's a great starting point. We can learn to love one another well if we talk about politics, disagree and continue to love.
The kind of fun I'm talking about doesn't involve spitting in the other person's eye or shaming the person in public or on social media. Shoving an opposite opinion in someone's face is not the same as public discourse.
THE KEY TO LOVE DESPITE POLITICAL DIFFERENCES
First let's make it clear that avoiding the topic is not what I'm talking about.
The thought police aren't running this country, yet.
I believe discussing the issues of our day can be enjoyable, even relaxing to some. But the key is not to intentionally stir up trouble, but to cultivate a listening ear and an un-offendable heart.
A what? WHAT IS AN UN-OFFENDABLE HEART?
An un-offendable heart. It's something none of us possess without Christ. Only Jesus can offer us the maturity and kindness to truly love others as we open up our ideas and beliefs and find ourselves miles away from our nearest neighbor.
When we learn that our kid's teacher, a co-worker, a fellow church member or even our pastor has different view than we do, how do we act? Do we belittle them in private? Can we speak respectfully about someone we vehemently disagree with? Or take it a step further, can we speak respectfully to someone we vehemently disagree with?
We weren't destined to shame or to gossip.
ACTION STEP QUESTIONS I'm not going to pretend I know what exactly you should say or do in response to this topic. But let me ask some questions to serve as a guide of self-assessment.
Can you talk about politics and be friendly at the same time? Do you avoid the topic because it gets you too angry or because you're afraid of speaking your opinions and being criticized? BOLDNESS IN LOVE
One of the two most avoided topics (religion's the other one!), politics gets a bad rap, but I say it's time to bust it out. Let's not be afraid of talking about our opinions, but the seasoning should be with salt, not sugar. We don't need to sugar coat our ideas and thoughts. If we season them with salt, they will be ideas that last, preserve and enhance.
So take your political views out for a walk. Let them soak up some vitamin D and rub elbows with your family, friends and neighbors.
Oh, and take along your ears and un-offendable heart too. You'll need them!