Tuesday, February 2, 2016

We the People

“Bravery may mean learning when to shut our mouths and to observe rather than to opine, to seek to understand rather than to be understood.” Jonathan Merritt

There’s a presidential race taking place in the United States? Maybe you’ve noticed. It’s super fun for Americans. Except it’s not. 

The message from each candidate is mostly negative and blaming. They each want us to know who to blame. This means we need never take responsibility for our own problems, individually or as a nation. This is great marketing. Use your words to instill fear and people will follow you. We are a people easily duped.

Yet we’re all citizens of the same country. Some of us believe in a conservative government. Some of us believe in a liberal government. Some of us even believe in a libertarian government (after all, I do live in Idaho). We’ve bought into the belief that these different views require us to despise each other.

Why must we dislike each other because we believe differently? To me this is like saying, “You prefer Starbucks Coffee and I prefer Peet’s Coffee so, of course, we can’t be friends.” It’s more complicated than that. I get it, but your differing political beliefs should not bring out the bad in me. How you present your political beliefs, well that’s where it gets tricky. I am dismayed by those friends of mine on social media who seem only to look for the negative, who post angry and hurtful articles about how “those people” are ruining our country.

Here’s the thing. I will rarely listen to your opinions if they are presented from a negative viewpoint. If you want my attention, present what you believe in a positive way, without disparaging all other views. There must be something good in your beliefs. If the only way you can discuss politics (or education or religion, etc.) is by tearing down the “other,” I will disregard what you say.

I do not live life from a  negative viewpoint (this is mostly true. . . ). Maybe you think that’s naive of me or Pollyanna-ish, but this is my life and I refuse to wake up each day and look around for what’s wrong or who is wrong. I choose instead to, “Get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.” Abraham Joshua Heschel.

Because it is for freedom Jesus set us free, and living into fear or hate or negativity is not freedom. It is self-imposed bondage.

“Integrity consists not in having no presuppositions but of being aware of what one’s presuppositions are and of the obligation to listen and interact with those who have different ones."  N.T. Wright

One of the greatest joys in my life are my friends who are completely, radically opposite from me politically. I love them so much. My friends who hold to different beliefs enrich my life. I cannot imagine life without them. How boring! I want conversations that push me to consider why I think what I think. I want to be in relationship with real people who believe differently than me, so I keep remembering they are real people. I want them to be all up in my face, so when I am tempted to let enmity grow in me towards that other political party or that other denomination, I see instead the faces of those I love. And I remember there is no other. There is only we the people.

“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another.” John 13:34

"As life carries on, I hope my edges soften, my defenses weaken. I so desperately want it said of me that I loved well." Jen Hatmaker


  1. Preach, is Sister! Oh that we would all present our differences with love and understanding and stop villifying each other. We aren't the villain. Satan is.

    1. Thank you, Anita. It's hard to keep our focus on the right stuff when the world keeps throwing the wrong stuff in our faces.