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Cast Your Ballots for “Tree of Life” Candidates

November 6, 2018
Emmetsburg News

The name of the Pittsburgh synagogue where an unspeakable tragedy occurred last Saturday -- "Tree of Life" provides a criterion for voters in the mid-term election the language they use in their speeches and commercials, especially negative or attack ads.

In numerous sacred texts, the "tree of life" was understood first as a symbolic plant whose fruit conferred immortality. Elsewhere, it was a reference to happiness and successful living. An example is "the tongue that soothes is a tree of life; the barbed tongue, a breaker of hearts." (Proverbs 15:4 ; Jerusalem Bible). The King James Version reads "a wholesome tongue is a tree of life; but perverseness in it breaks the spirit." Revelation 22:2 suggests that the "leaves of the tree are for the healing of nations." Enough of barbed tongues and perverse messages. We need representatives who will bring us hope and healing!

Cast your ballot for those candidates who more frequently than their rivals emphasized their qualifications for office, focused on issues, respected differences of perspective and strategies, and promoted unity and the common good. Do not vote for those incumbents and office seekers whose agenda is built on fear and innuendo, who ridicule opponents to the point of suggesting they are criminal, and who engage in hate speech by diminishing groups based on race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation.

Evaluate the commercials for candidates. Did they run more positive spots or attack ads? If negative, that is a clever way of not having to defend or explain one's own qualifications, past actions or future visions. How often did the commercials use pejorative or vague labels to frighten? How frequently were depressing music, unflattering pictures, guilt by association, and dishonest statistics featured?

Too long we have all been silent regarding negative ads. Too often we have not held our elected officials accountable for hate speech. Too frequently we have excused politicians for their lack of truthfulness. The violence that results from hate speech is a game-changer. If we want our district, our state, our country to have trees of life, vote for candidates who speak with gentleness and wholeness and who will act with integrity and courage.

Charles Kniker




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