division unity

What Has Become of Us?

9:11 AMHeather

I cringed. I mean, I physically cringed and wanted to act like a two-year-old with the coping mechanism of placing my hands over my ears and screaming out, "La la la, I am not listening."

But I couldn't.

Because my son was taking AP Government and required to watch the presidential debate. 

And it was like an awful flashback to the time that I made my boys go an entire day ignoring each other because they could not get along. They wouldn't share toys and they couldn't talk without it erupting into an argument. So for an entire day, I sat my rather pregnant self on the floor between the doorways to their rooms. They were not allowed to speak to one another or play together or acknowledge each other's existence.

At first, this sat well with them.

But within about an hour, they realized how they needed each other. They were bored, and suddenly, their loneliness reminded them that they actually needed each other. It was one of those rare days when a harebrained mommy idea actually worked and brought about the desired effect.

I have to admit. I've been sitting around watching things go down around here for the last few months and I have that same motherly instinct.

What has become of us? Like the night of the presidential debate when I literally apologized to my children for the adults who were nominated to lead our nation although they could not carry on a civil conversation. 

"Yes, kids. I'm sorry for this. This really isn't who we are. This really isn't the best we can do. This really doesn't represent the America that your grandfathers and great-grandfathers went into war to defend."

It actually feels like one elaborate episode of Punk'd, if I were to be perfectly frank. I expect Ashton Kutcher to take the mic soon and laugh about the prank pulled on us all.

Before you jump to conclusions, this blog post is no statement on one political party or the other. This is not decrying one man or one woman or any particular agenda or issue.

This is simply a cry to say that we are better than this. I'm afraid we've lost our sense of a broader community. 

Remember? Do you remember how we felt on September 12, 2001? Do you remember how we rushed out to buy American flags and American flag pins to show our unity and solidarity, and so much so that these items were sold out? Do you remember how united we felt? How we gathered, as a nation, to mourn collectively? How we were moved to lean on one another?

Are we really so short sighted and forgetful that just 15 years later we are at each other's throats?

We have forgotten how to have civil conversations and show each other respect. We don't remember how to reach across our differences to find our commonality. We have let our humanity get the best of us and have thus forgotten to be humanitarians.

We don't have to look alike or think alike or speak alike or agree on everything in order to show each other decency and respect. 

 Image Courtesy of Unsplash

I have been so grieved by the ranting and finger pointing and yelling and hatred. Tweeting horrible things about the new president's child because you don't care for his father. Yelling at those whose candidate didn't win because they are struggling with the outcome. Seeing only protestors instead of seeking to understand what has them scared or upset or angry and thus beginning a dialogue. 

We don't have to be grieving the same thing to console one another.

I sit back and think, "How can I teach my children to disagree? How can I teach them how to have the respectful and kind and loving conversations through disagreements and to extend friendship and concern to those who are not like them?"

Because what they are seeing all around them is not so much what I want them to emulate.

I agree with the friend who asked if we can just go back to posting photos of our dinner instead of trying to sway one another's politics through social media. (P.S. that kind of persuasion doesn't work).

And then, thank the Lord, as my soul was heavy with the burden of the hate and flat out meanness, my pastor addressed this very topic on Sunday. You can listen to JR Vassar's sermon in its entirety on podcast by clicking here, and choosing the January 22 sermon. It'll be worth your time, I promise.

Allow me to just offer this summation until you can listen to the wisdom from Scripture: "We are to value human life over things. The most precious thing on Planet Earth is human life. We each personally matter to God. We have worth and dignity and value and are sacred beings because we are image bearers of God. And when we demean and demonize and vilify any image bearer -- any human -- then we demean the image of God. People are prized and we are to act accordingly," (JR Vassar).

We are to act accordingly in person, to their face. We are to act accordingly behind their backs. We are to act accordingly on social media, whether we know the person or not. We are to act accordingly whether we share the same beliefs or don't. Whether we look alike or don't. Whether we agree or disagree. We are to treat others with dignity and compassion, for to "dehumanize others is to chip away at our own humanity and it damages us," (Vassar).

Here's a mind blowing truth. Here's the gospel summed up in one sentence. 

Jesus loves those he disagrees with. In fact, Jesus loved those he disagreed with so much so that he loved them to death.
 
I sorta want to put us all in time-out right now. I want to sit myself between our doorways of various schools of thought and political leanings and beliefs, and I want to do something to remind each other that we actually need each other. That we belong to each other. That we can love one another without agreeing on everything. In fact, that is our mandate. 

Abraham Lincoln said it during the Civil War, but it was first said in Scripture. 

"And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand," (Mark 3:25).

So, come on, people. Let's get it together. People of God, in the overall collective church, let's remember the beauty of a community that is strong and loving and linked only under the common bond of Jesus. Let's remember that the world is watching and hungry for what we have. For what we have is the hope of a Savior who links us together and makes us one body because he offered his own to be nailed to a cross.

Let's take a deep breath and figure out how to agree to disagree. Let's think about our common humanity. Let's work harder at having respectful disagreements. Let's roll up our sleeves and attack the problems instead of each other, extending grace upon grace to each other. Let's look past issues to see people.

Let's quit letting our humanity show to the point that we forget to be humanitarians. 

Don't make me come in there.

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