Following Tuesday’s election, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky vowed that the new Republican majority is “going to pass legislation.” While the prospect of an end to Congressional gridlock sounds hopeful, McConnell’s statement begs the question: “What KIND of legislation?” Will the new majority set as their priority Biblical values such as economic justice for the poor and careful stewardship of God’s good earth? Or, will its priorities represent a headlong rush to preserve and add to power, wealth and privilege where it is already concentrated?
Time will tell. In the meantime, both for those who rejoice and those who lament the outcome of Tuesday’s elections, an old Buddhist parable:
A poor farmer’s horse ran off into the country of the barbarians. All his neighbors offered their condolences, but his father said, “How do you know that this isn’t good fortune?” After a few months the horse returned with a barbarian horse of excellent stock. All his neighbors offered their congratulations, but his father said, “How do you know that this isn’t a disaster?” The two horses bred, and the family became rich in fine horses. The farmer’s son spent much of his time riding them. One day he fell off and broke his hip. All his neighbors offered the farmer their condolences, but his father said, “How do you know this isn’t good fortune?” Another year passed, and the barbarians invaded the frontier. All the able-bodied young men were conscripted, and nine-tenths of them died in the war. Thus good fortune can be disaster and vice versa. Who can tell how events will be transformed? (Stephen Mitchell, “Tao Te Ching,” 1988)