Michael Wear, a former White House staff member and Director of Faith Outreach for President Obama, spoke at McCord Auditorium Jan. 31 to speak on faith and political rhetoric in the current climate.
Wear began his presentation with the idea that people should be challenging the cynicism-inducing occurrences of current times. He said millennials are the first generation to truly grow up in cynicism and a certain distance to religion.
“Our law is by definition codification of morality,” Wear said.
According to Wear, this goes against the earlier conventions of the newer generations. If our laws are built on a Judeo-Christian standard, then how has the country reached this boiling point of religion and politics?
“Politics can’t become the primary thing. It can’t be the foundation,” Wear said.
According to Wear, the idea serves as a breeding ground for the attitude that one’s team is the only one that matters, as politicians try to fill the vacuum where faith once existed.
Wear said over the years, the American political scene has stripped people of the joy and peace they once had.
“Politics is causing great spiritual harm in American lives,” Wear said.
Wear mentioned what he called election stress disorder. People were becoming noticeably stressed around election time, their political inclinations and fortunes guiding how they felt about election outcomes.
Wear said Americans are ideologically segregated. Having two feuding parties that try to get the voice of people through any means, including faith, is a recipe for disaster socio-politically.
At the same time, 43 percent of the voting American public proclaim their status as independents according to Wear. According to Wear, to become independent is to disown and give up a voice in the system.
Wear said that this divide between parties hurts not only those inside, but also people on the outside. He urged people to act outside their parties for the betterment of everyone.
“When you sign on to a party, there is no fine line wherein you sign over your conscience,” Wear said.
In all of this division, the Christian community has its own role that is often left unplayed.
“The Christian’s duty is the same as every citizen,” Wear said. ““When society goes bad, we tend to throw up our hands.”
Wear also spoke about righting the wrong of division and strife in the country through empathy.
“There is a kind of courage that can only come from humility,” Wear said.
Wear also said ensuring that the government runs in a manner suitable for all is a universal affair.
“I don’t think the idea of loving your neighbor is solely a Christian thing,” Wear said. “People of all faiths and no faith at all are a part of the American family.”
Therefore, to change this situation of hopeless situation, each American should grasp hope.
“Hope opens up these doors,” Wear said. Without hope or the unity it provides, it becomes much harder for Americans to see that politics is not everything.
Wear said people need to realize that politicians need people who support them, and that change will only come once we embrace true unity.
“The ground needs to be tilled for new things to grow,” Wear said.