My theological brain is about to explode! The cause? The vitriolic rhetoric relentlessly espoused that promotes the divisive climate so prevalent in our country today. We are about as united as the proverbial oil and vinegar with each side claiming moral superiority. We are divided into social units based on how we look; who we love; our gender identity; our age; socioeconomics; neighborhoods; schools; sports team allegiance; where we work, pray and play; what we think is the best breed of dog or if we think cats are the better pet. We point fingers at those who vote differently than we do, as if ‘the other’ has no business being a voice in our country. We divide along lines of plastic or paper (paper, please…); if you want a turtle-killing-straw with that iced tea (yes, please…); or what we think about gun control. We politicize mental illness…the senseless, crazy kind that kills in a twisted, sick, fucked-up need to be immortalized for murder. The left points fingers at the right and the right points right back as if to say, “You did this…not me!” when we certainly are all at fault.
We use our sacred writings as a means to convey a ridiculously high level of spiritual excellence, essentially bullying others into agreeing with our social agenda out of a longing to be righteous. And then…we judge those that don’t agree with our brand of faith or our worldview. Our judgment leads to being judged by those we have demonized for their beliefs. And the cycle continues.
We have allowed political campaigns to run for months and months before election day. In this heated season, I have yet to hear one televised commercial that doesn’t vilify the other opponent; one that tells me what a candidate intends to do; one that seeks to unify rather than divide. And yet, each party claims to be the one focused on their brand…and only their brand…of their perceived morally exceptional behavior. There is little room for conversation, let alone compromise. Hurtful labels are plunged deep into the hearts of the criticized doing as much damage to the soul as a dagger does to the flesh.
When indeed, we are all in this beautiful life together.
Let’s try that again…WE ARE ALL IN THIS BEAUTIFUL LIFE TOGETHER!
So now, what do we do? We listen. We listen to our sacred writings and realized that they all speak of compassion and love for our neighbor. We accept that we are made differently for a reason. Many eyes and hearts see a variety of distinct things so that we can come together as a unified whole, not as opposing groups focused on grabbing all of the power. We recognize that our neighbor is in need of a casserole or someone to vacuum or give them a ride; that they long for a message of hope rather than hate; that they simply want someone to validate their life through shared conversation, including those things that have hurt them or those things that inspire them…even when their “stuff” is unfamiliar to us. We realize that our elected officials are not in charge of our morality – good or bad. We accept responsibility to step outside of our lives long enough to see the needs around us. We stop judging and start understanding. We look at the messages of Jesus, Mohammad, Gandhi, Buddha, and others who spoke of compassion and love, recognizing when rhetoric – religious or otherwise – comes with baggage that feeds into racism, sexism, and all of the other ‘isms’ that attribute to divisive behavior.
What we need is to look at ‘the other’…you know, the one that doesn’t think the way we do…and simply come together…right now…
The Youngbloods hit the music charts in the late 1960’s with a song, Get Together, written by Chet Powers. (Also known as Dino Valenti) Google it. Listen to it. Read and savor the words. Think of it as a prayer for our country – every bit as relevant today as it was half a century ago. Then…LIVE IT!