I think I’m am alright guy, I just want to live until I’ve gotta die
I know I ain’t perfect, but God knows I try, I think I’m an alright guy
- Alright Guy by Todd Snider & The Nervous Wrecks
The Nervous Wrecks is a great name for a band, isn’t it? And Snider’s song is quite perceptive about human nature. In the song, he catalogues a list of his own sins, but then ends each stanza with the above chorus. The song is a satirical expose of people who have forgotten how to blush and who have become indifferent to their own sin. Their sin is never the problem because they can always spin it to make it look otherwise or at least contend that it’s not as bad as other people’s sin. More often than we care to admit, we all fall into this category of Alright Guys. There are always worse sinners around than us, right? But I hope we know that’s not the point, is it?
Take King David for example. Now there was a sinner. At the height of his power and popularity, King David decides to steal another man’s wife, have that man murdered, and then lie about it afterward. Later, Nathan, his national security advisor, confronts him with the evil he’s done and David admits his sin. But why did he do it when he had everything? The answer the Bible gives us is that he did it because he could. A century later in Israel’s history, King Ahab sees a vineyard that he wants for his own, but the owner, Naboth, doesn’t want to sell it. So, Ahab plots to falsely accuse him of cursing God. For this trumped up charge, Naboth was stoned to death and Ahab got his vineyard. What made Ahab do such a thing? The Bible says he did it because he was the king and he could. A century and half later, King Manesseh was so notorious in his zeal to wield brutal power that the Bible says he shed so much innocent blood that “it filled Jerusalem from one end to another.” Manessah assumed he was impervious to judgment because he had the power and the authority as king.
These kings of the Bible thought their status gave them currency to do as they pleased. I’m sure that none of us have sins that rival Israel’s kings. We see our sins as small potatoes compared to the sins of the powerful. And for most of us they are smaller potatoes, but only in size and scope. Sin is still sin. And that’s true whether it’s done by a king, a nation, a church, or by the likes of you and me.
This Tuesday is Election Day when we elect our own “kings” to govern us. The people standing for election exhibit, at least in part, some Sniderly tendencies (Hey, they know they ain’t perfect, but God knows they try). Yet, they’re quick to blame their opponents, the President, or any other convenient target (but never we the voters because we’re all smart, good looking, and above average!). And they never seem to hold themselves to account. So, we’re stuck with the Alright Guys we elect. Why don’t we have candidates who can be honest about their own faults, be humble in their own use of power, and who aren’t always ready to blame everyone else for the challenges we face as a people? Must we settle for “the lesser of two evils” (or, “the evil of two lessers”)? We get the political leaders we elect, whether we deserve them or not. I’m still hopeful we can do better.