Saturday, September 08, 2012

Taking Sides

A non-partisan political post? Well, one can hope.  

After watching the RNC and DNC meet over the past couple of weeks, I can't shake my disbelief that, as a nation, we seem to have moved to a place where to take one side is to alienate oneself from everyone taking the opposing position.  Facebook is rife with posts of derision for those of opposing views, demonizing and questioning the morality and spirituality of those who disagree with our opinion du jour, and these attitudes extend beyond Facebook and other social media into our real life social interactions.

I know some who resolve this by avoiding all political discourse of any kind - the old Hogan's Heroes Sergeant Schultz approach, "I hear NOTHing, I know NOTHing, I do NOTHing." Perhaps, that is a better course of wisdom.  As most of us can acknowledge, I have rarely met anyone whose opinion was changed by the most heartfelt (or vitriolic) Facebook post.  BUT, perhaps if we could discuss the issues that concern us all, and really listen to opposing perspectives, isn't it possible that while our political allegiance might not be changed, our willingness and ability to find some sort of common ground might be?

Perhaps the most disturbing words I have heard from friends of both political parties are, "I am truly fearful for what is going to happen to our country if Candidate X is elected." It seems to me we are bestowing a bit more power onto one candidate than our founding fathers intended when they aimed to protect us with a political system of checks and balances. And since so much of this concern comes from people of faith (on both sides), I question why we don't trust God more to guide whoever is elected, just like God guided Saul when Israel insisted on a king God didn't think they needed.  I don't question the faith of either of the candidates, and I think it is possible for them to make divergent decisions with which I may or may not agree. God didn't agree with Israel's need for a king, but continued to work through them in spite of their decision. Big God always trumps Small People. Sure, I have a preference, but I also know "All things work together for good to those who love God . . ." (Romans 8:28).

And speaking of working together . . . I just wish we would - both parties, all opinions.  And certainly all people of faith.  Not all of my friends agree with my political leanings.  I even have a college friend whose husband is a Senator of the party with which I am not affiliated. I don't always agree with how her husband votes. He has been gracious enough to let me express my views as one of his constituents, and she has never treated me with anything less than acceptance and friendship. They are people of faith, I am a person of faith, and we don't agree on everything and we still like each other. And talk. And listen. And sometimes have to agree to disagree. I have a colleague who usually votes differently than do I. We laugh and tease each other. And listen to each other. And find that there are issues upon which we can agree. And others where we agree to disagree. There are some issues upon which I most strongly believe. In a world full of flawed human beings with varying priorities and beliefs, I think my response needs to be to be a willingness to share my thoughts fervently, live my life with integrity, and listen to the thoughts of others, seeking some sort of common ground. I simply will not get on the merry-go-round of alienation and demonizing.  

I saw a Facebook post this morning posted by the "friend of a friend," that I think beautifully captures this issue. I hope she doesn't mind my sharing it here with due credit to Becky Zahller McNeil:

I am deeply saddened, nearly to despair, not that people whom I love have a different vision of the best path to healing the brokeness in our nation, but that people whom I love would deride and dismiss the faith of others based on their political party. People of good conscience, people of deep faith, people of broad compassion are Independent, Republican, Democrat...It does the Gospel of Jesus Christ nothing but dis-service when prideful, awful, sweeping judgements are made, villifying those whose views differ from one's own. Our nation would be better served by far less ugliness, and far more openness to listening, really listening and caring about each other.

1 comment:

  1. Great post. This completely expresses what my husband and very close friend and myself discussed yesterday. I have been heartbroken over the hate speech in the name of "the Lord" this political season. Thank you!