Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word

"It's sad, so sadIt's a sad, sad situation, And it's getting more and more absurd, It's sad, so sad, Why can't we talk it over, Oh it seems to me, That sorry seems to be the hardest word."

-Elton John

This week, millions of Christians will be commemorating the death of Jesus culminating with the celebration of Easter when we believe Christ was raised from the dead. For Christians, Christ’s life and death signifies God coming in our midst and walking amongst us and dying for us. God showed grace when humanity deserved punishment. Followers of Christ are urged to live lives of grace just as God did in Christ.

So, why the mini religious lesson? (And even moreso, why the Elton John lyrics?) Maybe because grace is so missing in American politics. There is not much sense of forgiveness or even humanity among the diehard partisans.

That has been evident among some on the left in regard to Matthew Dowd’s regrets concerning working for the Bush Administration. Some, including myself, who read the New York Times article, felt bad for Mr. Dowd. He truly believed that he was doing the right thing. James Moore doesn’t feel that way. He refuses to forgive Dowd for his working with the Bush Administration. He made his bed with the devil and now he must lie in it, according to Mr. Moore.

I don’t know what has happened in American politics that people have taken politics so seriously that they hate those who don’t agree with them or consorted with the “enemy.” I’ve said a lot about how hard-hearted conservatives have been towards liberals, but liberals can be just as cold-hearted as well.

It’s funny: one of the main criticisms is that the Bushies never liked to admit a mistake. Critics wanted a president and advisors that were “open-minded” and willing to change their mind. So, when one advisor does just that, instead of getting praise, he gets more judgement for not seeing his mistake in the first place.

One of the passages of Scripture we read during Lent was the famous parable of the Prodigal Son. In the story, the younger son, who had shamed his father by demanding his share of the inheritance, and then wasted his money until he was flat broke, decides to come back to the homestead. He makes his way back home and is welcomed lavishly by his father. Some biblical scholars believe that the young son’s return was nothing more than a scheme to get more money from his father. Whatever the case, the father welcomes him. The other son, was mad about how the younger son acted and how he was celebrated by his father when he was the loyal son who never left. The father responds that both sons are welcomed.

James Moore and others are acting like the older son, mad at the past sins of the “younger son” Matthew Dowd. Maybe like the older son, they are justified in their anger, I don’t know. But it seems to me that they need to get off their high horse and give Mr. Dowd a little bit of grace.

Grace is something that is missing in American politics. It’s grace that allows us to see each other as fallible humans instead of arbiters of truth. Mr. Dowd thought he was doing the right thing and now he thinks he was wrong. In a political culture when we never want to admit we were wrong, I think what Mr. Dowd did was important and should celebrated, not condemned by arrogant blowhards.


Mark Jablonski said...

Great post. As one who leans left, I felt that Dowd's comments were sincere, and that he was indeed trying to do the right thing. TheModerateVoice linked to this post, which is how I came across it.

Chesty said...

Moore needs to get off his high horse: without a prodigal son named Webb, Democrats don't have the Senate right now.

Marcia Ford said...

Fantastic post! Grace in politics--now there's a radical idea. The lack of civility and grace in partisan politics is one of the factors that drove me to political independence. Thanks for posting your reflections.