The many meanings of ‘politics’


Got a laugh yesterday. I quipped, “’Politics’ is aptly named: From the Greek ‘poly’, for ‘many’, and tics are little jerks.” I continued, “The only thing worse than a politician is a non-politician trying to be one.”

Listening later to the convention (RNC) I heard lots of criticism of “professional politicians”.

Something occurred to me: I am ordained and serve in a denomination that, among other things, based itself on the premise that it was wise and faithful to put the Bible into everyone’s hands in language they could understand, and trust God would deal with individual consciences. Yet for 500 years we have still found professional clergy a necessity.

My cardiologist won’t comment on my colon – he sends me next door to the GI whose qualifications are equivalent, but different. My tax accountant is a very smart and personable guy, but I call a plumber for advice on drips.

Experience and a half-decent education usually equips us all to live successfully; but, taking Catechism doesn’t make us theologians, taking health class doesn’t make us doctors – and passing civics doesn’t make us politicians.

Experience and a half-decent education should make us “generalists”; make us able to discern fact from bunk; recognize reality; give us the sense to seek out those who have the appropriate skill and training when we need more extensive help.

And, aren’t we all a little jealous of our own specialties? I want a nickel for every tradesman I’ve heard complain about do-it-yourselfers.

“Politics” really is from the Greek: “Polis”, meaning “people”. Politics is the specialty of dealing with people; taking their rich diversity into account, listening to them; synthesizing workable policies that will serve them; and governing people fairly, justly and compassionately.

Give me a professional every time.

Pastor Doug Campbell, ELCA (retired)

Wilmington