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Elections, trees and hope
Once upon a timemore than a quarter-century agoI came to believe an important truth. That truth is that among the most hopeful things one person can do is to plant a tree. So I planted several on the piece of former prairie we called home for a generation.
We watched those trees grow and blossom and shade our family as it, too, grew and blossomed. Planting a tree is to share Gods hope for the future.
Then one day I spotted perhaps something even more hopeful: In the back room of an ancient dry-cleaning establishment I frequent is a bathroom. Its used daily by maybe three people (I had an emergency and begged admittance). Piled outside were rolls of toilet tissue. It was a big pile. A very big pile. Id guess about 20 years worth of toilet paper.
Now thats hope for the future.
OK, a true story, but meant to be funny; Im serious about the trees.
After staying put almost three decades, we moved several months ago. To another plot of prairieone just as barren and treeless. So we planted three more trees, just like the twigs we nurtured into monsters at our old home.
These trees likely wont mature until Ive gone to seed myself. But no matter, trees are a sign of hope in the future of the world. I may not see them, but God will.
And some things, it seems, are best left to God, the source of our hopes.
Its hard, though, to leave things to God. Things like elections where we want to change the world for the better.
Theres an election in a few weeks, and October being Respect Life month, some faithful people are very frustrated that their churchand its leaders (and publications)arent out there stating clearly who to vote for, who to condemn, etc. Theres no question who, many say, because some are pro-life, and some arent. Crystal clear.
But politics and people just arent always so clear.
Thats why there are no calls for support of this candidate over that one, nor do campaign ads pepper our pages. And churches shouldnt be voicing partisan stands. (See story on Page 14.)
That doesnt mean, however, that Catholic voters (and I hope you are one) are without an election guide.
Two years ago, the U.S. Catholic Bishops issued Faithful Citizenship. The document (available at www.usccb.org/publishing) encourages participation in the election process and bringing Catholic values to the ballot box. But it also encourages us to consider themes of Catholic social teaching: the life and dignity of the human person, options for the poor and vulnerable, the dignity of work and rights of workers, care for the environment and more. In those areas, Catholics areand should bea counter-cultural bunch. For more on the life and politics connection, see Cardinal Georges column on Page 3.
Politics, being the art of the possible and powered by compromise, rarely will give anyone or any group everything it wants. Sometimes, no matter what we hope forand how much we hopethe choice is between the lesser of two evils. (And sometimes its the evil of two lessers.) Voters should consider all aspects of the issues since ramifications often go beyond the immediate.
Some things, and some people, also have to be left to God, the source of hope.
Where does that leave those who hope for a society which proclaims life in ALL its facets? The church speaks out against abortion and terrorism. But it also discourages war and capital punishment, racism and other hatreds and supports compassion for the least among us.
Rather than stating for whom to vote, the church places trustand a great deal of hopein people who have been taught the Good News of faith and the values of life.
Me? Ill be voting, certainly. But Ill also be watering those new trees.
Editor and General Manager
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