In the final verses of the letter to the Philippians, Paul encourages his beloved sisters and brothers with these words:
Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
After viewing the Republican presidential candidates’ debate last Thursday, I felt like (1) taking a shower and (2) reading Philippians 4:8.
What the world witnessed last week was more than embarrassing; it was an insult to the democratic process. I am aware that politics often gets down and dirty, and that ad hominem attacks are nothing new, but when people running for the highest office in the land resort to sexual braggadocio, they drag all of us down into the pigsty with them.
This is not a partisan concern. Whatever your political proclivities, surely you can’t be proud of what took place last week on national television. As Hamlet said,
Fie on ’t, ah fie! ‘Tis an unweeded garden
That grows to seed. Things rank and gross in nature
Possess it merely. That it should come to this.
What bothers me most about last week’s debacle is the message it sends to our children and to the rest of the world. America is supposed to set the standard for democracy. Struggling democracies look to us to see how it’s done. And what are we offering? “Things rank and gross in nature.”
Maybe I’m just a prude, but some things just shouldn’t be said in public by an adult who is seeking to be the leader of the free world. If one of our Preschool teachers had been in the moderator’s chair at that so-called debate, she’d have stopped the whole procedure, had the combatants sit still for a few moments, and led a discussion about what we do and don’t say to one another in a civilized community. Gently, but with firmness, she’d have explained that even if you’re angry, you don’t call people hurtful names and you keep your private parts private.
Our political garden needs some careful weeding. What it’s producing right now isn’t ready for prime time.