I have stared at the flashing line on the blank space of the word processing software for four days thinking about how to go about putting my thoughts down in a succinct way. I do not wish to be misunderstood or judged incorrectly for saying what I am going to say. So reader beware, if you begin reading this piece you must read the entire thing. You cannot skim it. Within may be some heavy hitting stuff that will likely inflame your conservative and or liberal sensibilities. And therein lies the first instance of the problem that is slowly eating this country alive.
Abraham Lincoln once surmised an ancient biblical perspective with his quote, “A house divided cannot stand.” He’s actually quoting Jesus from Mark 3:25, you know when everyone was telling Jesus He was actually the devil (in my opinion its one of the more humorous examples of human ignorance when it comes to change). Lincoln definitely knew a thing or two about division, he was dealing with a seceded south and a country torn apart by war and greed and every manner of human indecency. 2016 find us very close to the same point, perhaps with even more variables to deal with. The fact is that this country is as divided now as it has ever been in its history.
We are a people who love to group up and see enemies everywhere. We divide on political lines, we divide on religious lines, on sexual orientation lines, and on where we can go to the bathroom. We divide over and over and over again until all we are left with is ourselves. We have ceased to be a country united, and a nation of individuals all selfishly seeking to be heard and recognized for our perceived unique individuality. Yet, reality is that we are born just as broken and alone as the next person.
We have forgotten something along the way as Americans. Maybe it was our arrogance that really ramped up in the 80’s. Maybe it was the withdrawn cynicism of the 90’s. Perhaps it happened before that, I can’t really speak to decade that I was not witness to. Somewhere along the way we decided that our opinion equalled fact, and that our our view point was the only viewpoint acceptable. Thus we divide ourselves and lay claim to anything and everything that we may perceive as helpful and or harmful to our particular group. Its a terrible way to live and its how people get hurt. Its how hate is bred and nurtured and cultivated. It is how race is made evident and xenophobia pervades a culture. If you build enough walls around yourself you will eventually grow to fear and hate everything outside of those walls. That is America. A country of walls and terrified hateful people constantly hurling things over their walls seeing if they will strike the imagined enemy outside.
Before the tragedy of 9/11 we were very much divided as well, yet for a short time after we banded together as Americans. We proudly held hands and sang about our country, we even tried to listen to God together. We sought healing. It took very little time to divide again, and this time we divided further on every issue. We blamed a president, we blamed a party, then we blamed another president and another party. We listened to talk radio and watched talking heads on biased networks and were lead by every other agenda until we cannot go out in public without glancing sideways at our neighbors wondering secretly if they are out to get us. And the cycle repeats, each time we claim solidarity after a tragedy only to divide further along some line. As we do our country falls further away.
When was the last time we really listened to another opinion? When was the last time stopped listening to our own voice and really tried to hear someone else? It seems to me that no matter where we turn we do not see people seeking a solution to anything, rather we seek for a place to lay blame. If we could just figure out who to blame then that would make it all better, we would be able to put an end to the awful things that happen. That is just not true. Oh sure, people need to be held responsible. But there are always scars. When we look at our scars the pain will always be remembered, and blame will never take away that sickening memory.
Perhaps what I am trying to say is that we have forgotten as a people how to heal and how to forgive. For the past 15 years allow have known is self righteous anger and indignation. We have not had a moment to sit and reflect and move forward. 24 hour news media needs to be turned off, it has done nothing but breed a generation of paranoia. How can you possibly allow yourself time to process when the talking heads are spewing another negative story about how bad the world is. Social media is no better. The “headlines” of every story contain explosive language meant to bring about an emotional response from readers. And as such we are left raw nerved and red eyed to the point of madness and insomnia. It has to stop.
If you have come to this country and are a part of its citizenship I am begging you to read these words below and truly think about what it means.
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.-US Constitution
We are Americans, we are not caucasian Americans, or african americans, or latino americans, or gay americans, or transgender americans. We are Americans. We are unified by the belief that those that came before established something better than what the rest of the world offered.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. -Declaration of Independence
Our forefathers risked their lives and everything about their legacy so that we would have a country where we could be free. Where we could be unified together regardless of where we came from. Whether or not you believe in God Almighty as your creator or biological science as your progenitor you are free in this country to seek out certain unalienable rights, and that makes us unified. If we are to continue as a country we must stop this ceaseless division over every little thing. We must learn to listen to each other. We have to stop the unadulterated arrogance and feeling that our way is the only way and that if your opinion is different than mine then you are the enemy. We have to heal, and we have to forgive each other. Failure to do so is a death sentence for this country.
I will close with this, and I’m sure some people will read this and roll their eyes that I am going to talk about God and Jesus. You are more than welcome to roll away, I can acknowledge your opinion, and your disagreement with mine without casting judgement on you. Judgement has never actually been my job, but thats another piece to write later.
The Kingdom of Heaven is not something that belongs on another plane of existence. In fact Jesus was ushering in that Kingdom with His ministry and it is the job of the Church to further such a Kingdom. It is not a kingdom of riches and conquest and self righteous indignation at the rest of the world around it. The Kingdom of Heaven is a kingdom of rest, of peace, of unity, and of healing. It is a kingdom where God is recognized as sovereign and where His will is sought above all else. Selfish ambition is abandoned and service to Christ and to others is taken up. You can disagree with my belief system all you want. But you cannot deny that seeking to serve other people instead of yourself is more beneficial to mankind. You cannot tell me that healing an peace are bad things and should be shunned. The Kingdom of Heaven is a dream in every person ever born. Jesus says that doesn’t have to be a dream. But its takes something on our part. It takes surrender.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
Perhaps you are like me and are tired of this long division. Perhaps you will join me in seeking the kingdom of Heaven.