I don’t want to write this. I’ve been avoiding writing this post for months now, because honestly I don’t really know what to say. I mean, I have a lot to say, but I feel like most of it has already been said and I don’t even know where to start.
Our country’s political scene is in shambles. But honestly, it’s a symptom of something greater. Something more sinister is brewing beneath politics, and we’re trying to put a band aid over a gushing wound instead of sewing it up and administering antibiotics. There is a massive divide between people of differing race, economic stature, and religion; a divide between nearly anyone that has differing opinions or lifestyles, or even just different ideas. For a country that is supposed to be a melting pot, a community open to all, a place where anyone can be free to say what they want and live how they want (barring the harm of others), we are doing a piss-poor job.
We have become a people who pursue only our own selfish desires. We hold no truth but our own twisted idea of what life looks like or should look like. Instead of listening, we shout. The stories of our neighbors, of people who have lived different lives and experienced different hardships and triumphs, should grant us perspective. Their stories should expand our minds and stretch our biases, allowing us to make space for each other. But we’ve chosen to narrow our focus, close doors on other ideas, and speak louder instead of soften our voices.
We have decided that it is better for us to be right than it is for us to be united.
I often think I’m right. I mean, obviously. I built a website just to write my thoughts publicly. There is clearly an idea in my mind that my words hold some truth. I’ve struggled to keep a lid on it, however. I usually think I’m right to a fault, that the people around me are somehow wrong because they think differently or their experience doesn’t match mine. But part of living in community is recognizing where your faults are, and I’m working to do that. I am not always right, and even when I think I am it doesn’t mean I need to speak it. In fact, I’m starting to come to a place where I recognize that truth tends to stand on its own.
What kind of world would we live in if we sought to understand "the other" instead of ostracize them? What if we weren’t afraid to have our minds changed? If we believe that we are each so right, then why do we cling so tightly to our ideas, as though we are afraid that if we we allow space for opposing views we might be swayed. Instead of conversing with each other over food and drink, creating a community that discusses and encourages, we debate until we are simply just screaming over one another. We are so entrenched in our differences that we fail to see our commonalities.
Instead of hearing the voices of the black community when they cry out “Black Lives Matter”, instead of hearing that they are saying “we too should be cared for”, so many of us immediately call for “inclusion.” After all, don’t ALL lives matter? Of course, but when so many of one people group are dying, can we not call exception to them?
When a loved one is diagnosed with lung cancer, and the rally cry is “fight lung cancer”, is the correct response “don’t you mean fight ALL cancer?”
When a house is on fire, and someone says “save that house!”, do we say “shouldn’t we focus on all the houses equally?”
We so easily brush off "the other”, the experience that doesn’t match our own, as being less valid or meaningless. And all of this because we are afraid that if we acknowledge “the other”, if we acknowledge validity in something other than ourselves, we will lose our own importance. We think that unless we cling to what we believe makes us important, the things that make our lives worth something, that one day we will wake up and the world will have forgotten us. We are afraid of becoming devalued, and so we devalue those around us. You see, we are each viewing the world as we assume it views us: pointless, worthless, intrinsically without value.
But we each are more valuable than that. We exist, and therefore we matter.
Our neighbors exist, and therefore they matter.
Giving credence to “the other” does not take away from ourselves. Holding someone else up doesn’t tear us down.
We should not steal bricks from one house to build another; we should be in the business of making bricks.
We cannot let our fear of losing the familiar control us. Rather, we cannot let fear caused by our perceived threat of losing ourselves control us. We are more than individuals. We were built for community. We fear that acknowledging the other will somehow make us less valuable, that we will somehow lose ourselves, when in reality it is only in the other that we truly find ourselves complete. It is only in community that we are made whole.
At the most basic of levels, humanity is what unites us. But I believe that we are united by something more. Humans are broken creatures, each and every one of us. There is but one thing that can unite us, and that is the death and resurrection of the only human to live a perfect life. And united in that grace, just as we are united in our brokenness, we are invited by the Spirit of God to do something more. We are empowered to be something different.
Jesus calls us to something other than the disunion that is being spread. He calls us to more than standing idly by while entire people groups are torn down, and individuals are silenced. We are not to leave the marginalized on the margins; instead, we should be joining hands with them. Jesus calls us to take action, to demonstrate a different way of life. To live in peace, and love, and be a light to the world. Let us fix our eyes of Jesus, the ultimate example and source of love, and let that focus on love be the thing that brings us together.