It started on Friday. I finally talked myself into going back to CrossFit a month ago. But on Friday, I couldn’t finish a very easy workout. I couldn’t catch my breath. We had a hurricane roll through two weeks ago and the remnant of the storm that went through Mexico was passing through on Thursday and Friday last week. My lungs sometimes get weird after low pressure systems move through. It is a side effect of the blood clots in my lungs, some of which are still there.
Then Saturday came and the horrific news of that shooting. I really wanted to just stay home. Maybe I should have given the digital mob that depended on NBC because of me. But I had committed to be on Meet the Press on Sunday so off I went. I have been on Meet the Press multiple times, but I had thus far avoided having to be there during times like this. I don’t like to talk about these sorts of things. Even on my radio show, I’d prefer to avoid them. They’re just deeply sad and everyone gets their backs up. No one wants to talk about the moral and spiritual crisis we have and I increasingly think the political angles on these stories are all the same and never change and will never change.
I walked into the green room and could tell. It was probably the stress of it all and the asthma. I was sweating and my chest was super tight. It wasn’t a panic attack. It was my lungs. I explained the heat had been on in the car. I made it through the show just fine, got in my car, and put on my oxygen meter. 90% blood oxygen level. Deep breaths got me to 93%. My inhaler got me up to 95%. I haven’t been out of the house much since I got home. My lungs have crapped out on me. It happens. It just feels like I’ve got an elephant on my chest. They’ll get better after a week of a steroid pack and inhaler. The timing sucks.
This morning I will get the kids up in about forty-five minutes and get them to school. Then I’ll drive up to Atlanta to meet my wife. By the time I get there she’ll have been poked and prodded and scanned. Every three months she goes through this. She has lung cancer and takes a pill each day that keeps the cancer from growing. Yesterday was her two year anniversary on this pill. In a lot of people the pill stops working about now. But given the particular mutation she has that causes her lung cancer, her doctor has been optimistic that the pill will keep working for much longer. We will find out in a few hours. I hadn’t wanted to say anything to her about me because she’s got her own stuff to worry about.
My wife is my best friend. I just want us to grow old together. I look at the ages of the men and women gunned down in Pittsburgh and I want us to reach that age. And then I think of those people and how they all had lives to lead — some of them decades more. It is all so sad. It makes me angry. Jesus, when he raised Lazarus from the death, got angry. He was not angry at the people per se. He was angry at the fallen world and what it does to us.
More and more I am mindful that we are all fallen and we’re all pretty much falling. None of our leaders really want to call us to our better selves and the ones who do are thoroughly mocked. But then we should not need leaders to do it. We should all be able to rise to the occasion, but I am not sure we are.
My wife’s lungs and my own remind me that there is so much more to life than politics. This awful tragedy this weekend should remind you all of the same. There is so much more to life than politics. But politics has become so consuming. As we become political animals, we see everyone else that way too. We see everything that way. Everything becomes politicized. And when our joy becomes politicized, we cannot really enjoy life. Our highs become dependent on the successes of egos in Washington and our lows are tied to their failures.
Scripture says we should seek the welfare of the cities in which we are in exile and there we will find our welfare. Unless you live in Washington, you shouldn’t be focusing on your welfare there. You won’t find it. You’ll find a soul sucking experience that binds you to politicians there.
And this is the part where politicians of both sides fail us. If you’re on the left, your life has not really deteriorated because of Trump. But both sides have deteriorated because we have allowed politicians to make Washington where we must seek our welfare. We all now think too much of the successes and failures of Washington. But your school board, your city council, your local volunteer group, your local church and civic organization, and the local homeless population need your help. Your family, your friends, and that person who lives next to you that we call a neighbor needs your help. They all need your help more than Washington or Twitter or Facebook. There, in your local community, you will find your welfare and a joy not tied to the ups and downs of a political party in Washington.
We all need to make room for more than politics. I can assure you that as a gunman opened fire in a Synagogue in Pennsylvania, no one cared at that very moment about Washington. Life and death were made very real and the political fortunes of braying jackasses were not part of it. Just think of the loved ones you know who, because of politics, your relationship is fractured. I think I am fortunate in not being in that situation, but I know way too many people who are. Think if they were to die tomorrow how you’d feel that you or they or both of you let a situation you cannot really control in a city you do not live in fracture a bond you had. It does not have to be that way. This is a choice you and they make and too many are choosing the easy path of breaking the bond instead of the difficult path of maintaining a bond despite differences.
I’ve got two kids upstairs asleep right now. I can hear the whistle in my lungs as I breathe. The pain is there. My wife should just be getting her first blood draw in a few minutes. Politics really isn’t on my mind this morning. Life is — life lived, cut short, hoped for, extended, not extended — just life.
Life should not be political. We could all be called to our Creator at any moment. And I just think when we get there He is not going to care which politician you cheered for. That’s not to say politics is bad. It is to say it has gotten too large in all our lives and we should not need to witness terrible tragedy to be reminded of that fact.
And it is a fact I have had to learn for myself in the past few years as my wife’s and my own health have their ups and downs. There’s just so much more to life. Life is a beautiful thing. But our politics have gotten so ugly. If the politicians won’t call us to our better angels, perhaps we should try it without them.