Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

November 8, 2012

Event seeks unity after election ’12

GOSHEN —  Political healing anyone?

Fresh off of one of the most contentious presidential elections in recent history, Goshen College students, staff and community members were invited to gather at the college’s Umble Center Wednesday morning to take part in a part-lecture, part-ceremony of reconciliation.

The event was aimed at answering two main questions: what is your political identity? and How can you better work with and understand people with different political identities than our own?

Headlining Wednesday’s talk was Karl Shelly, pastor of Assembly Mennonite Church and adjunct professor with the Peace, Justice and Conflict Studies program at the college.

In beginning his talk, Shelly first looked at the origins of the word “political”, which is derived from the Latin politicus, or polis, meaning city/state.

“In other words, politics is the concern of civil matters,” Shelly said. “It’s about how the state, how the city, how the community organizes. It’s a decision to be made about how to live together, and in a democracy, that’s a task that’s shared in various ways by the citizenry. So at its best, politics is about the improvement of peoples’ lives. At its best, it’s about coming together with your neighbors, choosing representatives, and accomplishing things together that you can’t separately.”

Moving beyond the overarching label of politics in general, Shelly then took a detour into the much more colorful and varied world of political identity.

“Your political identity comes from deciding how you will fit into this political reality,” Shelly said, “how you will engage the concerns of your community, how you can advance the societal hopes we have and how you can add your voice to the chorus of competing interests.”

One of the most common ways to differentiate one’s political identity, Shelly said, is the use of labels: libertarian, anarchist, socialist, etc. Shelly then went on to discuss the three most common labels utilized within the United States today: liberal, moderate and conservative.

“Most people in the United States can place themselves somewhere on this scale,” Shelly said, noting that a recent Gallup poll on U.S. Ideological Groups places approximately 40 percent of Americans in the conservative group, 35 percent in the moderate group, 21 percent in the liberal group, and 4 percent having no opinion.

“So there are people who engage in politics in various ways,” Shelly said. “You should consider the many different options.”

As one example of those various political ideologies and their manifestations, Shelly invited local community organizer and political activist Julia King to share a personal story illustrating her own unique take on political identity.

King began her talk by describing a recent plane trip she took where she was seated next to two women, one an older white woman, and one a middle-aged African American woman, both with political outlooks different from her own.

“Somewhere along the line the election came up. Okay, maybe I brought it up,” King joked.

The women went on to talk about the perceived failings or successes of President Obama’s first four years. They talked about greed. They talked about abortion, gay marriage and war. Things got heated, and tempers flared.

“It takes a lot of skill and patience to talk about these things without getting angry or provoking anger,” King said. “We weren’t terribly skilled.”

Then, just like that, the mood shifted. The plane hit turbulence, fear set in, and what had just moments before been a group of very dissimilar women became a tight pod of support and reassurance.

“Just like that, the political symposium was over,” King said. “So here’s the obvious moral of the story: that airplane is our country, or even our world. We are all buckled in together. Opting out is simply not an option. We may disagree, and at times we should feel morally obligated to disagree, but we still need one another.”

Also joining Shelly on stage Wednesday was Goshen College Professor of History John Roth, who provided his own unique take on political identity as it relates to his Christian faith.

Central to Roth’s outlook was the idea that one can be political without necessarily participating in the standard political process, namely the right to vote. Roth, as a rule, does not vote in presidential elections.

“The decision not to vote is part of my political identity,” Roth said. “Not voting is a reminder that my political identity is not defined primarily by what happens at the State House in Indianapolis or the White House in Washington D.C. When we spend $2 billion on elections driven by negative adds, by fear and emotion, we end up with a very skewed view of what political responsibility means.

“What if, instead, you would commit yourself to a different kind of political identity, beginning with acts of compassion and healing, focused on the frayed edges of your own local community,” he continued. “Along the way, practice the habit of looking at every person you meet as a child of God, speak and live in truth, and look for ways to participate with God in the healing of our broken world.”

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Michigan Prisoner Escape Michigan murderer arraigned in prison escape that led to manhunt in Elkhart, LaGrange counties

    IONIA, Mich. — A convicted murderer who broke out of a western Michigan prison in February has been arraigned on escape, carjacking and kidnapping charges.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140423 Wakarusa Musical 3 'A Kid's Life' portrays sudden techno loss WAKARUSA — The young people of our present day society don’t remember ever having lived their lives without some element of electronic gadgetry becoming involved. For them, it would be difficult to fathom the possibility of a world “off the grid.” So the fourth- and fifth-grade students of Wakarusa Elementary School will offer a comedic and chaotic interpretation of such a dilemma with their upcoming musical “A Kid’s Life.”

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140423 stress relief 03 Furry pals help GC students with dog days of finals GOSHEN - Goshen College students took a break from preparing for final exams to hangout with some four-legged friends Monday afternoon.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140423 FF spring play_3547 Fairfield students to present Oscar Wilde classic BENTON — Fairfield’s musicals and plays have recently left their status as an extracurricular activity and come under the wing of the Performing Arts Department and under the direction of Andrew Muth.

    April 23, 2014 3 Photos

  • Sheriff Brad Rogers_0657 Sheriff travels to Nev. ranch in fed dispute Elkhart County Sheriff Brad Rogers has weighed in on a controversy surrounding a Nevada rancher, and visited the scene of the struggle.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140209 snow storm 05 Elkhart, LaGrange counties denied FEMA aid GOSHEN — Elkhart and LaGrange counties were not among the 19 Indiana counties that had financial aid approved Tuesday by FEMA for a January winter storm.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Prep Roundup BASEBALL Falcons garner road win The Fairfield Falcons posted a 5-4 victory Tuesday evening at Rochester. Dustin Everage (three innings), Andrew Bobeck (three) and Austin Christner (one) pitched for the winners. Everage struck out three to earn the

    April 23, 2014

  • Akela.jpg SLIDESHOW: Pets of the Week Available cats and dogs at the Humane Society of Elkhart County. These loving animals are looking for permanent homes.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN0423 BC IN Common Core Indiana panel approves new school standards

    A panel of Indiana business and education leaders were met with boos and jeers from attendees after they voted overwhelmingly Monday to support new math and English standards set to replace the Common Core in classrooms this fall.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • The week in photos

    April 22, 2014

Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Poll

There has been discussion at West Goshen Elementary School to require mandatory student uniforms in the future. How do you feel about the prospect of mandatory student uniforms in a public school environment?

I think it’s an excellent idea that is way overdue
I think it’s a bad idea and would be restrictive for students and parents.
     View Results
AP Video
U.S. Paratroopers in Poland, Amid Ukraine Crisis US Reviews Clemency for Certain Inmates Raw: Violence Erupts in Rio Near Olympic Venue Raw: Deadly Bombing in Egypt Raw: What's Inside a Commercial Jet Wheel Well Raw: Obama Arrives in Japan for State Visit Raw: Anti-Obama Activists Fight Manila Police Motels Near Disney Fighting Homeless Problem Michigan Man Sees Thanks to 'bionic Eye' Obama to Oso: We'll Be Here As Long As It Takes Bon Jovi Helps Open Low-income Housing in Philly S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart New Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees Named 'Piles' of Bodies in South Sudan Slaughter SCOTUS Hears Tv-over-Internet Case Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers