I used to enjoy election time. Energy and excitement flowed from candidate’s messages. Rallies were held. Hands shaken. Speeches delivered. On election night I would be glued to the television anticipating the results and how they would impact my life. I leaned out of my seat. Waiting, waiting, until finally the announcer would say, “The polls are in and we are projecting that the Winner is . . .”
I used to enjoy election time. Today I’m jaded by constant mudslinging. Elections now come as more of a burden than a joy. Mudslinging began in the late 1700’s and was much more vicious years ago than it is today. What makes current mudslinging frustrating is how many media outlets are available for negative campaigning. The average US citizen is bombarded with negative messages for months by phone, mail, e-mail, social media, lawn signs, billboards, and anything else a candidate can derive.
I used to enjoy election time. Someday maybe I will enjoy it again. In the meantime, let’s consider what messages we teach our teenagers through the voting process. I teach my children responsibility through voting at every election. Our society teaches teenagers about values, current events, democracy, strategy and communications through campaigning. We also teach teenagers that “the ends justify the means” when mudslinging is used.
I encourage you, as you serve the teenagers in your church or care for the teenagers God has blessed you with in your home, to talk with them about what elections mean. Ask them about government policies, current events, and even mudslinging. Ask them how they think God views the candidates. Ask them what they would do if faced with an “evil” opponent in an election. Would they justify telling the world about a person’s shortcomings in order to gain votes and popularity? Would a great emphasis be placed upon sharing personal strengths or tearing an opponent down by exposing the person’s faults?
Ephesians 4:29 reads, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
This verse challenges me. It helps me realize why I used to enjoy election time but find frustration in it today. Election time does serve as a reminder that I need to grow in my ability to build others up. I need to encourage them according to their needs in order to benefit anyone who is willing to listen. God, grant us the ability to carry out this difficult task as we live each day for you.