In this time of election campaigns and the over 1 billion dollars that will be spent among the contenders, our country continues to be divided among liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, those who care intensely for politics and those who have given up on it. It seems to be business as usual. In fear of losing votes to the other side, Democrats and Liberals do not want to criticize the Obama Administration for its failings, such as the list of people who have been and will be killed by drones because they have been labeled "enemy combatants" without bringing them to justice as our Nation and International Law demand. On the other side, Republicans will distract from conversation on Romney’s weaknesses by attacking the current administration because they do not want the other side to win. Everyone protects his own interest. Unfortunately, this creates apathy towards our political life among many of us, for there seems no alternative beyond the usual bickering and hypocrisy of the political cycle. Furthermore, the fear of social program cut backs or of the loss of our tax breaks, the fear of same-sex marriage or of restrictions on "reproductive rights", these issues make people feel like a sheep among the wolves. This constant bickering truly impoverishes our nation’s political discourse and dialogue. Rather than a well-informed free decision, we will end up choosing our next leader out of our fear and confusion.
In the midst of all of this, Jesus words in today’s Gospel challenge and also create an alternative possibility as we maneuver the through the politics of our nation and of the world community. Jesus invites us to be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves. These characteristics can guide us as followers of Christ and as citizens. We are called to be astute in thought like a serpent. It is with critical reflection that we should wrestle with the complexity of our political life both at home and abroad. Simple mental sharpness, however, is not enough. Jesus also calls us to have tenderness of heart like a dove. We must have the affective maturity to hold others, especially those with whom we clash ideologically, in compassion.
Let us continue to pray that, we, the Church, as well as all people of goodwill, may seek to become shrewd as serpents and simple as doves in order to enrich the political life of our country and give witness of the Reign of God in the World.
Fr. Hugo Esparza, C.P. is a Passionist of Holy Cross Province now working in Mexico with the Province of Cristo Rey.