Thursday, November 8, 2012

Elections Aftermath

SCRIPTURE: 1 Peter 3:13-16
Written by: Dr Conrade Yap
Date: 8 November 2012

"Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander." (1 Peter 3:3-6)

So Obama has won the US Elections. In a winner takes it all culture world, people draw battle lines. Winner gloat about their victories loudly. Losers resign to their defeat quietly. Anyone looking at the recent elections may be forgiven if they think that the US has only two colours: Red or Blue. One either votes for the Republican party (Red) or the Democratic party (Blue). Otherwise, one can simply choose not to vote at all. At the final count, even though Obama has taken 303 electoral votes over Romney's 206, one needs to remember that the number of votes are not an accurate reflection of popular vote. Take for example, the hotly contested state of Florida, where both candidates won nearly half the total votes cast, the margin of victory is only 0.56%. Yet, whoever wins, no matter how small the margin, the winner takes all 29 electoral votes of Florida. That is pure democracy at work, where majority wins.

Map of the US Elections 2012
Is Obama's win a win for America? The answers are mixed. The fact is, if there is any win for the people, Obama's administration has the next four years to demonstrate it.

A) Who Wins?

People in support of gay rights and marijuana legalization say that they win. The day following the hotly contested US elections, the front page headlines of newspapers in BC proudly flash out the victory of Obama as a win for marijuana and same-sex marriage activists. In Canada, Obama is extremely popular. Yet, on major news agencies, the capitalized words on the front pages are extremely optimistic of greater rights for gays, for marijuana use, and for human rights, as defined by these activists. It is quite easy to see how the news media portrays the choices of US Presidents as a reflection of their lifestyle choices. Simply put, people can do the correlation. Rightly or wrongly, the opinion points to:

  • A vote for Obama means a vote for pot, for same-sex marriage, and for more gay rights.
  • A vote for Romney means a vote against all the above.
Such a clear cut distinction only muddles the thinking of most people. Does this mean that Obama is a gay advocate or a pot champion? Does this necessarily say that Romney is attacking the rights of all gay groups? How then is a President going to deal with his calling to stand up for ALL groups? Every group has rights. Ever sector needs attention. Every individual needs to be respected as a citizen. A President is not just a president for any one activist group. He needs to serve ALL groups. So, what kind of a "victory" is this?

Canadians here in BC feel it is a win for them. Yet, for some Canadian businesses, a win for Obama represents greater competition from their neighbours. With British Columbia a neighbour to the US state of Washington, whatever happens down south has a direct implication for matters up North. With the legalization of marijuana in Washington, the Canadian customs are becoming more stringent to check for illegal importation of the drug into Canada from the US. BC drug pushers will feel threatened about the easy availability in Washington. With the legalization of same sex marriage, Vancouver's same-sex wedding industry is bracing for greater competition from Washington state.

A win for Obama is not necessarily a win for some businesses.

Yet, I am concerned. I am concerned not because I agree or disagree with whatever human rights in question. I am concerned about how the next generation is going to make wise and informed choices. I am concerned that the way adults fighting for rights for that generation, spill over to another generation that are not equipped to think as well as the present generation. In other words, simply on the basis of different eras, what is benefit to one generation is not necessarily be so to the next.

B) What About Responsibilities?

Is a win for more rights a win for the teaching of responsibilities? Not necessarily. We can all fight for rights, but with each right, there needs to be a corresponding rise in taking responsibility. Who is doing that?

A right to smoke marijuana requires responsible use, and a responsible teaching of the pros and cons, and how it impacts society at large. That is why cannibis, marijuana are drugs that are controlled. Any society that legalizes their use without a corresponding framework of teaching responsible use, is downright irresponsible. It is also harmful.

How can one curb addiction? Where are the helps and guidance with regards to responsible use? What can parents do when their kids bring home a bag of pot and start smoking them in their room, claiming that it is their "right" to smoke the drug? The logic they can say is, since the state allows it, why can't their parents allow it? The onus is on parents to teach responsibility. If society at large, and activist groups simply fight for rights for the pure sake of rights, ignoring all responsibility in the process, their actions will be deemed irresponsible.

C) Pray for Parents

For all the talk about greater human rights, I fear that society is becoming less family friendly. Society does a great job in highlighting the plight of the weak and marginalized, and for fighting for greater rights for all. For people who are passionate about rights, they often despise rules. They diss off laws that prevent them from doing what they want to do. They want to abandon the very structures that have stood the test of time, to provide them the very atmosphere of freedoms they have. My concern: are they are sawing off the very branch they are standing on?

I think of the Ten Commandments that have shaped the ethic of society in general.  With the hugely anti-religious sentiment nowadays in the West, just saying, "Thou shalt not steal," can trigger a straight rebuttal: "Don't you impose your religion on me?"


Remember the talk about the silver spoon generation? Parents who struggle hard through the tough economic times to raise their kids, store up a form of character in themselves, an ethic of hard work and an appreciation for the right for human dignity. By removing the struggle and the challenges of hard work, their children grow up with a silver spoon, sometimes thinking that the world owes them a living, assuming rather than fighting for the sake of others. In the same way, people of one era who understands the issues, and fights for the rights based on their understanding of the pros and cons, are potentially offering pot and legalized drug to the next generation without guidance. That to me is not only dangerous but irresponsible. Education is key. In fact, I will argue that education needs to be all-rounded, not just from the gay-advocates, or from the pro-pot groups. Equal rights means equal rights for all, not just any one group. Just as education curriculums are tailored to promoting gay and lesbian rights, is there space for an alternative view? Is there a way in which parents of different opinions are able to teach their kids not to simply swallow lock, stock, and barrel, what their public school teachers tell them? Is there a place for people of religion to teach their kids in the public arena, just as the people of secularism are imposing their philosophies on our children? I am talking about equal rights, but the way the society is shaping up right now, shows that some groups have more rights than others.

Winners take it all?

If a win for Obama results in a general relaxation of a freedom of ethical rules in businesses, it is a defeat for a free and fair business environment. If a win for Obama means an unchallenged right to free and irresponsible use of marijuana, it is a defeat for social organizations who have suffered the brunt of the negative effects of drug addiction. If a win for Obama means the children in our culture have free and unrestricted access to all things drugs, sexual liberty, and a right to do whatever they please, it is a defeat for families struggling to cultivate greater responsibility and citizenship.

Character begins at home. Unfortunately, if there is a  rise in rights over responsibilities, and the elevation of individual rights over community matters, it is not a win. It is a loss for all, both the present as well as the next generation.

D) Our Hope in Christ

Pray for parents. Society is good at fighting for rights, but is utterly poor in promoting responsibility. Parents form the final frontier in the bringing up of good and responsible people in society. It cannot be based on simply fighting for rights for the sake of rights. Neither can it be fighting for the sake of fighting. It must be something else.

The Apostle Peter has this one goal. Hope in Christ. Anyone of us who wants to do good, needs to ask ourselves, "What is good?" Christians know that only God can define what is good. For those who refuse to acknowledge any god, they themselves are their own gods. Christians know what hope they have. Those who refuse any knowledge of God, base their hopes on other things, like narcissism, self-seeking motives, and all kinds of rights based on an undefined brand of secularism and pluralism. Our hope is in Christ. Their hope is in an eclectic mix of everybody wins, everybody has a right to their own opinions, and everyone has rights to everything they want.

Peter encourages us, that those who seek to do right, will be expected to suffer for doing right. It is to be expected. One more thing. Who wins? The jury is out there. Whatever happens in the next four years in America, or the world, we wait to see. Our present duty is to live well in the light of God's Word. We are to live responsibly and base our righteousness on the Word of God. We are not to be ashamed of the gospel. We cannot please the world. We cannot please all people. We can please God.

God wins. Eventually.

THOUGHT: "I believe that every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity, an obligation; every possession, a duty." (John D. Rockefeller, Jr.)


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