We’re in the midst of a dynamic political process where thousands endeavor to influence millions in an effort to put one man into the office of the presidency. It is a simple, practical equation, one that relies on a corp of a few, actively trying to shape the opinions of the many, only passively involved in the process. In the end, the efforts of some result in the success of one.
To make the influence effective, the battleground of this election is rapidly shaping up to be one comprised of telephones and banks of volunteers willing to make those innocuous survey calls. These are people with thick skins and patient voices. You never know who might be on the end of the next dialing sequence. Perhaps it is a likable lady content to answer each question patiently and obediently. Perhaps it is a cranky codger just spoiling for a good debate. Often, however, the object of the caller’s devotion to duty and candidate is nothing more than an impersonal, impassive answering machine. Nonetheless, even the machine gets the practiced message. After making dozens of such calls, every caller longs for that one party who simply says “Sure, I’ve got a few minutes. I’d be happy to answer your questions!”
I’ve been making these calls now for a number of weeks and have had my share of the likeable and the cranky. Recently, however, I had the opportunity to speak with a young man of voting age who had the patience to answer my questions and the confidence to volunteer an additional opinion to go with each one. I could sense by the tone and tenor of his voice that he wasn’t interested in debating with me. He just seemed interested in delving into the topic a bit further. The question was a simple one. “Do you consider yourself pro-life, pro-choice, or somewhere in-between?” After making quite a few of these calls I expected to zip through this question without a hitch. The choices seemed pretty easy. But it wasn’t easy for this young man. He just couldn’t answer the question one way or the other. I left the entry blank and moved on.
When we finished I sensed that I wasn’t through; through in the sense that although I had polled the young man, I hadn’t helped him. I spoke a few more words to him about how I believed that God values all life in the womb as well as out of it. I shared several Bible passages with him as well. There was a long pause; and then I asked him. “Would you like me to call you again?” “I think so.” He said. And we left it at that.
I kept his number as a post-it note near the top of my monitor. Each day I looked at it and wondered whether what I had said really had sunk in. And, if so, had it given him the ability to make a decision? As each day passed I gained a little more confidence to make that call. Gradually the note, having been shifted from one side of the monitor to the other and, finally, adhesive letting go, dropping onto my keyboard, became a compelling calling card. It was time to make that call.
I dialed the number and listened to the ring on the other end of the line. Then, just as I was about to hang up (perhaps somewhat relieved because deep down I secretly was afraid that nothing I had to say could really be of influence anyway), I heard his “hello” on the end of the line. We chatted amiably for a minute or ...
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