Written by James Boler
January - February 2001
Those of us in Florida found our out-of-state friends and relatives often included comments about the Florida election in their Christmas greetings this year. I am convinced that all my Minnesota relatives have a conspiracy to keep the jokes about the Florida election mess circulating so that those up in the frozen North can make us forget about their governor. It won't work.
But the 2000 election does prove that politics is merely a human invention, imperfect and flawed, for the ordering of society. Politicians and governments are, and will always be, finite creatures and creations. They, like us, are—and will always be—imperfect. We have executive, legislative and judicial branches, not a theocracy with a queen or a king.
We saw that even when we tried, there was not a perfect "remedy" for the election mess in Florida. Israel could not find a truly "righteous" king. Only God, not people or human institutions, is perfect.
The solution is not the "perfect" candidate or the "perfect" legislative action. But we can have better government and more justice and more adequate housing and better education and more peace in the world. A good first step would be a recognition of our common humanity and a little more humility on all sides.
"On to perfection" (Wesley) may be a goal but it is not usually achievable. There are those moments when we do, through effort and/or accident, do the right thing and do it well. We call those moments "heroic" or blessed. But most of the time we and our institutions are hindered by ignorance, finitude and sin. Confession is much more than "I goofed." It acknowledges our basic human condition where no one person, congregation or political party has the wisdom, wherewithal and will to be perfect.
There is no place for pompous bullies in church or society. Competence without arrogance is required for the building of human community.
God forgive us when we think we know more than we do, when our actions done in the name of God harm someone or some part of creation we never intended to harm, and when we see the world from our limited perspective and think that must be God's perspective.
God forgive us.
The Rev. James Boler is Minister for Educational Development in the UCC's Florida Conference.