I have been thinking a lot about a recurring remark we have been hearing recently from people in politics: That other person is my opponent, they say, not my enemy.
This other person and I might disagree on ideas, policy decisions, solutions to problems, where to spend money, and how much. We hold very different views, but we do not wish them ill. We respect them as persons.
In my long life I have experienced such relationships many times in many settings and, yes, dwell in some right now. We all do. I struggle to understand the positions held by some others. Some, I regret, I regard as fools. But hate them? Never. They are not my enemies.
Years ago I performed in a production of a musical show called “Plain and Fancy,” whose plot is based on the inevitable awkward situations that arise when a sophisticated New York couple visits an Amish community in Pennsylvania. One song from this show’s score sticks in my memory: “It Wonders Me.” I love the phrase.
It wonders me how people holding positions of power, people who appear respectable, educated, family loving, all of that, are comfortable using their positions to hurt others. We witness it in practice by Mitch McConnell, senior U.S. senator from Kentucky, whose position as leader of the majority in the Senate places considerable power in his hands. Critics would accuse him of abusing this power and cite plenty of evidence.
Others, who now in the aftermath of the presidential election are about to lose their positions of power and influence, are doing what they can to sabotage the departments, agencies, and programs in their care before they leave. In some cases, such actions are aimed at specific individuals with whom the perpetrators disagree, on such things as policy or where to spend the money.
Let us ask why. How will this help America? What motivates them? What does this show us about the character of such people? These are not my enemies. We share much in common. Why are they acting this way?
It wonders me.