We are just coming out of the longest government shutdown in the history of our nation. We are already preparing for an election that is 21 months away. One need not look too far for hints of strong division already spewing from the candidates’ mouths. As of October 2018, 53 percent of Americans polled by the PEW Research center said it was “stressful and frustrating” to talk about politics with those who disagreed with them, which is up seven percent from March 2016. I’m not going to say Trump is the sole cause of all of this hate and division, but it would be hard to deny he is a factor.
It’s not hard to look at his twitter feed and see where he has been hateful and just downright rude. As I write this during the morning of the day of the State of the Union, Trump is already taking to twitter to bash Democrats and the media, two of his favorite targets. Hear me on this: Trump has the right to say these things, but we as Americans have an obligation and a duty to our great republic not to fall to his level. Especially those of us in the Church who have been called to something better than petty name calling and all of this hateful talk. It would be naive of me to say that I have been perfect at this. Those who know me know that I have been hateful and divisive with my own speech from time to time. However, lately it has been on my heart to change the words I use and exchange words of hate and divisiveness for love and unity. One of the key ways we all can become better at this is by listening to one another.
I’m talking to you, liberal, and to you, conservative. Instead of yelling at each other and saying that the other’s opinion shouldn’t be heard because you disagree or someone might be offended, why don’t you sit down and listen? You can order some pizza and peacefully discuss your opinion and honestly listen to each other. But don’t waste the opportunity. Earnestly try to understand where the other is coming from.
I’m talking to you, Christian, and to you, Muslim. You both have your own belief system. This is what we want in an open society like ours, but instead of bringing up various scriptures and doctrines to hurl back and forth at each other, why don’t you pull up a table next to the liberal and the conservative? Get yourself a slice of pizza, and civilly discuss your viewpoints and beliefs. I think you’ll learn more from each other than if you had been screaming back and forth for a couple of hours.
And, yes, I’m talking to you, President Trump, and I’m talking to you, everyone who disagrees with him. I personally see where you both come from (whether I agree or not with you is another matter). Are we hearing one another and debating or are we just sending angry tweets back and forth and screaming at each other without solving the problem? While you might need a slightly bigger table, pull up some chairs. Keep the pizza coming and LISTEN to each other. We cannot spend the next two years in the lead up to an important election in this state of disarray and division.
We cannot afford to spend anymore time running further away from each other. As Paul once wrote, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Make every effort.
So, put away the executive orders for a second, lower the protest signs for just a little bit, and give one another a chance to present their arguments as to why they think what they are doing is right. Listen to each other and figure out how we, as the people and government of the United States of America, can live in peace and harmony with one another.
The time for this unnecessary violence, bigotry and division is over. It’s time to come together, everyone.