|For some time I have been concerned about the growing divisions in American society. Civil debate is almost non-existent, and the individual or group who shrieks the loudest wins the day. We are an incredibly polarized people.|
Not long ago I listened to a report about competing demonstrations held outside the office of a member of Congress. Both groups were vociferous in their shouts of support or opposition to the health-care bill, but when the two sides met on the sidewalk they sounded worse than first-graders bickering on a playground. No insult was too offensive, no accusation was too rude, no allegation was too provocative to bellow at their opponents. Both sides were all mouth and no ears.
I believe it is important to feel passionately about important issues, but I am haunted by the story of the sage who asked his disciples, “How can we know when the darkness is leaving and the dawn is coming?” One of his followers answered, “When we can see a tree in the distance and know it is an elm and not a juniper.” Another said, “When we can see an animal and know it is a fox and not a wolf.”
But the sage replied, “None of those things will help us. We know the darkness is leaving and the dawn is coming when we can see another person and know that this is
|our brother or our sister. Otherwise, no matter what time it is, it is still dark.” |
We live in pretty dark times when none of us can seem to recognize persons with different opinions as part of our human family.
In just a few days you and I will celebrate Easter, the resurrection of Jesus Christ. As I’ve said before, I believe Jesus’ crucifixion was humanity’s rejection of God’s love, and Jesus’ resurrection was God’s rejection of our rejection. In other words, God would not accept our anger, our fear, our misunderstanding, and our pitiful protection of this world’s values as the final word. God would not take “no” for an answer.
And neither should we. We can hold to differing opinions, and hold to them passionately, but if you and I are resurrection people, we should not add our voices and energies to the current polarization around us. Of much more importance, however, you and I should be models to one another, and to our culture, of light shining in the darkness. Of all people, you and I should be able to recognize a sister or brother and proclaim that the long night of fear and mistrust is over.
Because Christ has been raised, we — as his followers — should have no loyalty higher than him and no standard of ethics other than the words he spoke from the cross: “Father, forgive them.”
Nobody ever said that following Jesus is supposed to be easy.