04 November, 2008

Election Day USA and the Dog

This is our dog in Ukarumpa. His name is Guinny. I only put this photo here because I didn't have another one I wanted to put up today and because we miss him. He's a good dog, especially now that he pretty much no longer chews up things that are important. I'm sure that he would like kangaroos if he were here to see them and eat them.

Today is Election Day in the USA, and so naturally, since I am a citizen of that country I feel compelled to at least mention it. I admit regretfully that I haven't been able to vote in the last couple of presidential elections--usually my voting disctrict gets my presidential ballot to me in PNG sometime in April after the election, by which time even the recounts are usually finished.

Politics are a little bit of a sticky thing in Ukarumpa. Most citizens of the USA who go there, (and this happened to me), eventually find themselves in a situation where they feel as though they are at odds with citizens of other countries who also live in Ukarumpa. The Wycliffe Centre at Ukarumpa is an international community with Wycliffe members from 15-20 different countries. Within the main body of Wycliffe at Ukarumpa, there are sub-groups of American, Australian, Dutch, English, Canadian, German, Swiss, Japanese, Korean, Swedish, Finnish and New Zealand people, just to name a few. Obviously we don't all agree on politics, and I have found that people from different countries will often have very different ideas on the role and form of government. Some people love to talk about politics and love to critique the politics of other nations.

(I should also add at this point, that I really like the international aspect of living in Ukarumpa. It can be a really good place to live and work--like most things in life, it is what you make of it.)

When I first arrived in Ukarumpa, I engaged a few non-Americans in these types of political discussions, but soon found myself embroiled in long and sometimes heated conversations that I was only marginally interested in. After a while I ceased talking about politics with non-US citizens altogether, as I felt the topic was too divisive. Now, in the interests of "...living at peace with all men...", I make it my habit to keep political discussions to a minimum. I'll happily explain the way the US system of government is designed to work and what some of it's current challenges are, and I will also happily listen to others describe how their country is supposed to work and how they feel about it, but as soon as somebody starts asking me to explain why America did this or why America doesn't do that, I start looking for a way out of the conversation.

This is one of those areas where I take Romans 12:18 to heart--"Insofar as it is possible, as much as it depends on you, live at peace with all men." (mostly KJV, I think). When I used to get into these discussions, I used to find myself avoiding people or treating them differently because I couldn't get around our political differences. But over time I learned that relationships with people are more important than political rhetoric, and being vocal about my political views was something that I learned I was happy to sacrifice to live at peace.

And that's pretty much all I've got to say about the election.

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