How far apart must we be driven before we can come together again? Together we suffer the unrelenting stress of this tension, this hostility, all of us, every one of us, irrespective of our political sympathies. Is this how we reconnect? Do we require one terrible event upon another to bond us as one people?
This is the irony of our days. We come together when bad things happen, hurricanes, floods, mass shootings, the mailing of bombs to those whose political views differ from ours. We respond with shock and sadness, outrage and empathy. We offer solace, prayers, and we search for answers. We are sincere. We want to help others heal.
Yet quickly we blame the Other. It comes naturally, easily, so temptingly to us. Someone is responsible for our national angst. Who? When did our neighbor become our enemy? What drives us apart?
Our president generously sows the seeds of discontent and distrust as he seeks to help his political allies by demonizing others. He blames the messengers, an ages-old tactic of despots, and his supporters cheer. So we blame him for our national malaise. Those who support him blame the messengers even as they labor to report the facts, the truth. They trust the president, preferring his version of truth.
Truth and trust. Casualties in this battle for loyalty, votes, power, control.
My one new year’s resolution as 2018 began was to seek to understand those whose political views differ from my own. Recently a friend asked me with a chuckle how that project is going so far. This year is nearly over, and I’m still working at it. I am finding the process easier when I make an effort to love them first. That part comes easy; understanding their political views is much tougher. But It’s a challenge I welcome and one I recommend for all of us to try.
Loving first. Maybe that’s how we can become one again.