In my family growing up, we participated in lively political dinner time discussions. When distant relatives came to visit the conversations got even livelier!
The reason for this is that both my parents were political activists. My mother ran for alderman in Rockford Ill. She shook hands with Robert F. Kennedy and I recently learned she had lunch with Mayor Daily! My father was involved in the unions and very opinionated, especially when it came to politics. If I heard him say oligarchy once, I must have heard him say it a thousand times. The only other person I’ve heard use that word is Bernie Sanders. Like Bernie, my father was against corporate money buying politicians, and he was not afraid of letting everyone know.
As children, we were encouraged to participate in these discussions and come up with our own opinions. I remember telling my dad I thought Ronald Reagan was a nice man, and he came unglued! But I was never afraid to say what I thought or felt. Everyone listened to each other and respected what the other had to say. We didn’t always agree but our love for each other overcame our need to be right.
Fast forward to today, and which is the reason I am bringing this delicate subject up. The environment we live in is driving family, friends, neighbors, and even husbands and wives apart. We are afraid to open the door to discuss our differences with one another, and this makes me very sad.
My question is this: if we can’t discuss problems, how are we ever going to come up with solutions? How can I find out what is important to you and you find out what is important to me if we aren’t talking?
I sense that the politicians don’t want us talking, because if you and I happen to agree on a subject or two, we might demand change. It is much easier to keep us apart and angry at each other than allow us to find out that we actually have common ground on many issues.
How can a political opponent raise money without opposition? I don’t believe we can solve issues by being for or against anything. We solve issues by opening up our minds to all possible solutions and implementing a hybrid of those solutions offered. Maybe we don’t get the whole pie, but at least we may get a slice of it.
The climate we live in doesn’t offer room for robust debate about differences of opinion. Instead of a discussion about challenging subjects, people and politicians are resorting to ugly name-calling, accusations, and blame. Instead of respecting each other and being truly interested in how another person thinks and feels, we shout over them or don’t engage at all.
God does not want us divided. In Matthew, it says; knowing their thoughts he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid to waste, and no city divided against itself will stand.” Matt -12:25.
There are similar quotes in Mark-3:24-25, Luke 11:17, and 2 Timothy 3:1-5.
In the letter from Paul to the Galatians, He is even more adamant, “But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.” Galatians 5:15
Although we did not fix any problems at our dinner table, the open discussions and dialogue, were loud, lively, and civil. At the end of the evening, with bellies full and heads light from wine; we laughed and hugged and let each other know how much we loved them.
When I got older and moved away, I continued the family tradition with my brother, with whom I am very close. He and I couldn’t be on more opposite ends of the spectrum politically. But our love for each other supersedes any animosity we would otherwise have because of our differences. Essentially, he thinks my views are crazy, and I think his views are crazy.
But through all the ribbing and debate, we discovered it is more important that we are unified in love rather than divided in politics.
I pray that during these unprecedented times we can learn and practice this same lesson. I pray that the motto of our flag: “One nation under God” still holds the sacredness of a diverse nation unified rather than divided. I pray that we can put our hands over our hearts and fully embrace our differences as a strength, rather than a weakness. Now more than ever, we need to come together in unity to solve the incredible problems that face our nation.
God gives us clear warnings that if we remain divided, we will fail, and we will fall. Let us come together now as one nation and pray for the spirit of unity to guide our hearts, minds, and decisions.