One interesting fact that has come to light this week came from Jim Messina, who was Barack Obama’s campaign manager. He states that the average voter only thinks about politics for four minutes each week and hence the message you have to get across needs to find its way into those four minutes. Cue endless repetition of meaningless catchphrases, bringing both ridicule and eye rolling from those whose interest is in politics.
There is a intense pressure on politicians then to make sure they are on script and do not do anything to deviate off message because they do not want to miss their window of opportunity. You can almost see it in their faces when they answer a question, trying to work out how they can fit it in. Sometimes they do not even try, and just say it anyway. Rarely do they get a chance to have another go and neither do we.
After His resurrection, Jesus asked Peter three times “Do you love me?” as a way of allowing Peter to makes amends for his denying Jesus three times before his death. How much relief must he have felt to have been able to correct what he thought was his final mistake? When someone you love dies suddenly, there is always an element of regret, of wishing you had one last special memory or conversation, of feeling like there is some unfinished business. When you have the opportunity to be able to say goodbye to someone you love who is dying, you can feel unsure about what to say. You do not want to mess up your four minutes, just in case they do not come around again.
My Grandpa has cancer and he wanted to get all his family together to celebrate one last time, to create one more memory for us all. He is a man who has always had time to listen to our stories, our cares and worries. He is always there, available for as much time as you needed. He is a great story-teller too, longing to relate the family history and keeping those alive in our minds who have passed away, but also those we have never known. His stories will continue in our lives as he completes his. Also his faith and dedication are an inspiration to his family and he will be sorely missed.
No-one knows exactly how long he has left and when you say goodbye it could always be the last time. The time you spend then feels like it has to be special and meaningful, full of deep sentiment and words which you will cherish. My last conversation with him was about the football last weekend. Maybe it is more what you do with the time than what you say. If one of the issues in this election is social care and looking after the elderly, our time could be better spent with those in our families and communities who are alone, ill or dying than listening to heated debates over the voting age.
Looking to ourselves for the answers is much more likely to bring change and love to those who need it. We may be better off bringing our families closer together than seeking fulfilment around the world, remembering our duty to those who have come before us. Listening to their stories, which are our stories, is more rewarding than reading leaked manifestos. Use your four minutes to think on politics and keep the rest for those who really matter. Besides only 15% of people can remember Strong and Stable when asked anyway.