We are a nation divided. We have had candidates, elected officials, and former public officials using violent words and pushing supporters of their parties toward violence of the other party. We have politicians and candidates who scapegoat and denigrate groups of people. This isn’t new. The question is this – what do we do about this?
Where do we start? With voting? With criticism? With blame? I don’t think so.
The only place to start is with self-examination. Yes, looking at ourselves in the mirror. Do these actions and words appeal to us at a base level, especially when violent words are directed at the other side? Do you get any satisfaction at all from demeaning words of the other side? Why? We are we so concerned with creating and maintaining an us vs. them system which ends up destroying lives?
Second, what is it that we really want?
How do we want to be acting and interacting with others, especially those we oppose?
Do we have a religious faith that we follow? Or only a faith that we claim to follow, but really ignore when the going gets tough? What does this faith tell us about how to behave towards others? Especially our enemies? Are we following our faith, or do we dismiss our faith when it is inconvenient? Why? Why do we claim to be a follower of a certain faith and ignore what it teaches? Or, if you are a Christian, how would answer Luke 6:46 with Jesus asking the question: “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, but do not do what I tell you? How would you answer Jesus?
Once we have done self-examination, we can start to move outward to others. We must set aside our desire to blame others. If we continue on our current path, it will only be a matter of time until there is physical violence.
When we look at others – especially our opponents – do we see their humanity? Or are they just an opponent, an enemy to be defeated, someone to blame, a mob, a leftist, a trumpster, etc. If we don’t see the humanity in the other, especially out opponents and enemies, then we are really no different from the Nazis, the Communists, the Slave holders, any empire that ever existed. Think that’s a bit extreme? None of these folks saw the humanity of their opponents, or the property (slaves) that they owned. We are no different because we will become them and live out their values, which demonize, enslave, and destroy. And their paths all lead to the same end – death. Death is the idol they worshiped and dehumanization was their sacrament.
I challenge you to look inward – to ask why violent rhetoric against your opponents appeals to you. And I challenge you to pray for your opponents – genuine prayers. Pray for your opponents by name. Pray for their well-being. Lift your opponents up to God. In prayer like this, we will see the humanity of the other person.
Only then will we move to a more civil discourse. Only then will we move away from injustice as a society. Only then will we start to have more humane policies.