Posts Tagged ‘polarization

25
Oct
20

Is it worth it?

It is no exaggeration to say that this is one of the most important presidential elections this country has ever seen.

This election is much more than a contest between two different men or two different political parties. 

It is a battle between two different visions of our common future.

I get that. 

I believe that.

But still I have to ask: Is it worth it?

That is to say, is it worth the cost of my relationship with you?

To be clear; I stand firmly in one camp. I believe in the inherent rightness of my camp’s position and platform. I have given money and time to promote the success of those in my camp.

And, for the life of me, I cannot begin to understand why anyone would choose the other one.

I have been tempted – and may have actually given in to the temptation more than once – to besmirch the intelligence and integrity of those in the other camp.

But here is the thing; when I actually stop and talk to them calmly and reasonably, I discover that the “other campers” are good people overall. 

They want some (not all) of the same things I want. 

Some (not all) love Jesus like I do. The ones that do – and those that don’t – aren’t obnoxious about it.

Some (not all) have families they cherish, just like I do. 

Their hearts beat, their eyes tear, their noses run, their knees creak, and their tastebuds tingle, just like mine. 

They drive cars, watch TV, cheer for teams, waste their time, mow their lawns, and listen to music, just like I do.

Again, make no mistake about it… I think the leaders they aspire to follow are wildly wrong… even dangerously so. Therefore, I can’t help but question their judgment when they say that they choose to follow that guy and that party.

But should I hate them?

Should I demonize them?

Should I forever trash any relationship with them because I question their political judgment?  

Maybe today is a good time to bring Paul’s words to the church at Ephesus to mind. You know, that time he said, “For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”(Ephesians 6:12, NRSV).

I don’t know… What do you think?

Abundant blessings;

19
Aug
19

Uncommonly Common

Alien invasionIf there is one thing we have proved conclusively in this country, it is that, contrary to the old saying, what’s good for the goose is NOT necessarily also good for the gander.

At least that’s what the gander seems to think.

Even a casual glance will tell you that here in 2019 these states of ours are anything but united.

Group A passionately defends their version of a “common-sense solution,” while Group B howls in protest, deeply offended. Group C is convinced that both A and B are “wacko nutjobs” and wants nothing to do with either.

Each of us has become adept at articulating the outcome that will be in MY best interest, but we have become clumsy and tongue-tied when it comes to nailing down a clear picture of what WE, together, might need.

What I am referring to, of course, is that ancient concept called “the common good.” A version of the common good was first articulated by the authors of the Magna Carta in June 1215 in Runnymede, England. This cornerstone document established the principle that everyone is subject to the law, even the king, and guaranteed the rights of individuals, the right to justice and the right to a fair trial.[1] The foundational principle of the Magna Carta holds that leaders of nations should devote themselves to pursuing a “good” that is held in common by all… regardless of political party or station in life.

What a concept!

One has to wonder though; in this age of runaway individuation is it even possible to speak about pursuing something so all-encompassing as a “common good”?

Last year former Clinton secretary of labor Robert Reich wrote a book called The Common Good in which he said, “What binds us as Americans is not birth or ethnicity but a commitment to fundamental ideals and principles: respect for the rule of law and democratic institutions, toleration of our differences and belief in equal political rights and equal opportunity.”

These ideals and principles, Reich says, are not political, at least not in the partisan sense; to affirm them is not to take sides in debates between Democrats and Republicans.

I am sure that people of varying political stripes can easily agree that things like safety, health, shelter, education, and freedom are all social goods worth pursuing. But what happens when two of these goods conflict with each other? Or when there are two or three or 500 different ideas of how to attain one of these highly desirable ends?

It might be that the real obstacle to rallying around a common good is that it will likely require each of us to sacrifice something. And as our current climate shows us, Americans are not terribly good at – or even very willing to – sacrifice.

When Jesus taught his disciples the words of what we now call The Lord’s Prayer, he included the line, “… thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” That phrase helps us see that God’s kingdom is that place where the common good is the watchword of every citizen and where people understand that none of us is well until all of us are well.

Sometimes I confess to feeling as if we are moving further and further away from that vision instead of coming closer. When one nation says, “America first!” and another says, “Italy first!” and another says, “India first!” I can’t help but wonder if we are, in fact, pronouncing the death sentence to any consideration of the common good.

The way Hollywood dramatizes one solution to this issue is by having earth invaded by vicious, city-stomping aliens. As our collective future is suddenly thrown into dire jeopardy, everyone lays down his or her partisan flag and bands together to save the planet!

Maybe it won’t come to that.

Maybe there will be an invasion by the Holy Spirit instead.

[1]The Independent, Feb. 2, 2015




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