Question on Voting
Excerpted from Q&A
Q: I have had some very strong feelings about one presidential candidate in particular, but now realize that that is ego running wild. I have asked to see differently, and now realize that he is running frightened and asking for love. My feelings are becoming more peaceful, and I am able to bless this person some of the time, but I am confused by the idea of voting. Since this is indeed an illusory world, why should I bother to vote at all? How should I look at the coming elections in November?
A: Since we believe we are bodies living in the world, the fact that the world is an illusion does not stop us from taking part in any of the normal activities we engage in: sleeping, eating, working, exercising, watching movies, or participating in elections. We do these things because we think we are here, and they are part of our experience as bodies. Jesus tells us early in the text that we should not deny that we have chosen to identify with the body (T-2.IV.3). In fact, doing so means denying ourselves the learning opportunities that are essential to the Holy Spirit’s curriculum of healing. The political arena, especially elections, affords us a very interesting opportunity to look at a vast array of judgments so they can be given to the Holy Spirit for correction. Very few people escape the charge of feelings around elections. These feelings range from a strong determination not to be involved, to strong judgments in favor of, or against candidates or groups. One may choose to vote or not to vote for many reasons, but it is not the metaphysics of A Course in Miracles that provides the guideline for this behavior. The Course is teaching us only to change our minds through the process of forgiveness, not to change our behavior. This means recognizing, not denying, the ego thought system that underlies our beliefs and judgments, so it can be transformed by the Holy Spirit.
The Course teaches that the world is the domain of the ego, that it was chosen as a substitute for Heaven. We have established its political structures as the foundation of organized society governing the way we live in the world. It is understandable, then, that politics is a very powerful symbol of the ego’s thought system, and politicians are significant authority figures. Both politics and politicians are, therefore, fertile fields for a very important cornerstone of the ego: the authority problem.
When we choose to believe the separation is real, we make this choice because we want to create ourselves; to “be our own person.” In doing so we believe we are usurping God’s power:
The issue of authority is really a question of authorship. When you have an authority problem, it is always because you believe you are the author of yourself and project your delusion onto others. You then perceive the situation as one in which others are literally fighting you for your authorship. This is the fundamental error of all those who believe they have usurped the power of God (T-3.VI.8:1-4).
We decide for ourselves who we are (separate bodies), rather than accept who God tells us we are (His one innocent Son). Guilt for committing this “sin” is projected on to authority figures, whom we accuse of all kinds of “sins”: lying, abandoning us, betraying us, neglecting our needs, stealing from us. These are all recognizable accusations hurled at politicians and governments, along with other significant authority figures. In every accusation we find the victimization theme, and all the feelings we associate with authority.
This is the projected version of our authority problem with God. It is the “root of all evil” (T-3.VI.7) because it has its birth in the original decision to separate from God and identify with the ego. Thus it is our conflict with God over authorship of our identity that is behind all thoughts and feelings associated with elections, politicians, and politics in general. No wonder political debates and discussions are heated. All parties (pardon the pun) are “right.” The ego tells us we are right about being bodies, being in the world, being liberal or conservative, being different in millions of ways, and right about voting or not voting. The Holy Spirit tells us we are wrong about who we are, and the only thing we can be right about is learning to identify with His definition of our Identity. As we experience the next few months of election activity, we can look at all the feelings and judgments about candidates and voters alike, recognizing in them our own cherished choice for separation. This is the way we see differently, and is the first step in forgiving ourselves for our mistaken judgment. However right we may be about a candidate’s superior suitability for office, if we judge the “other guy” as the sinner responsible for our distress, we are wrong. That is the important thing for us to learn at the polls in November, and in everything else as well.