In my prayers, I earnestly pray for God to bless our lawmakers to do his will.

Granted, among Christians, even among persons of different religions, there can be wide ranging opinions as to what God’s will is depending upon the issue up for discussion. And not to be forgotten are those who believe there is no God and yet, I think it’s safe to say, who do generally desire justice to be done whenever possible — and that is some common ground. 

I believe God finds the carrying out of justice to be a good thing. And it’s an even better thing when seasoned with mercy and kindness.

So I pray, and I pray, and I pray.  If you are a praying person, I hope you’ll join me in praying for our lawmakers in Wisconsin, particularly at the Capitol in Madison.  What we have seen of late in the battle over the so-called “Budget Repair Bill” is the fruit of what’s been brewing now for decades — not only in our state but nationally, an ever-increasing combativeness and digging in of heels, of partisan ear plugging coupled with either loud name-calling or much quieter back-stabbing. 

Cool, reasoned, thoughtful negotiating and compromise is a rare commodity. Funny how that is, considering that politicians on both sides of the aisle are usually quick to agree that “love thy neighbor” is the proper path whatever one’s religious beliefs.

So is it loving to assume what is in the hearts of any on either side, particularly when the assumption is that the other side is trying to hold the legislature hostage or that the other side is trying to destroy the state? 

Come on! We all want to live here, and so by definition it’s in our collective interests to do what is good all around. Vilifying the political opponent, whether in a governing dispute or during an election season is downright evil, pure and simple. 

So is deceiving the public, however subtly. With apologies to the atheists among us, I can only hope there is a God so that those who think they can get away with underhanded schemes and offensive behavior will have to face a judgment one day. 

For persons of faith, do we need reminding that it is the Devil’s desire to divide us, one from another, so as to make life more difficult and more miserable? Why let him win? Life is too short for this.

Is it loving to think that either side politically should get all its own way over the other any of the time? I thought that’s what checks and balances were meant to prevent. (I’m sure I will be accused of being a hopeless and naïve idealist, but ought we not strive toward the ideal, even in politics?) 

Why must it take an impasse and a digging in of heels for one side to make concessions? Why must legislative tricks  — burying controversial ideas in bills labeled for other purposes, endless amendments, a 1 a.m. call of the question when not everyone in the minority is likely to be aware of what is going on, a vote lasting all of a few seconds, and lawmakers having to leave the state in order to get a real seat at the negotiating table — be the way grown-up men and women in public office choose to deal with our state’s finances? 

Why must either side in a democracy ever say “no” to compromise?  When did compromise become a dirty word? 

Is it loving to try to take away the voice of anyone either in the legislature or at the bargaining table, even if you don’t agree with what their position is? Is it loving to legislatively make the opposition’s life difficult (either among the lawmakers or for those whom they represent)?

And is it ever right to complain about one’s salary, benefits, or taxes when the most vulnerable among us are struggling?  When the quality of our children’s education is at risk? 

Wisconsin is almost always among the top five or 10 states when rankings of quality of education are measured. What is that worth to us to keep? And since when did pitting public sector employees versus private sector employees ever result in an improved standard of living for either? 

Do we still believe in liberty and justice for all, or are those just a bunch of empty words?

Do you know what would help our lawmakers behave like grown-ups? Take the money out of politics on all sides. 

“Can’t do it!” you say? If the people stand up and demand it, oh yes, it can be done.

Steve Carlson is the pastor of New Hope Lutheran Church in Downsville.

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