At this present moment, America is divided almost exactly in half. In fact, people on both sides of the aisle are lamenting that there wasn’t a bigger win for their party. Both sides were convinced there would be such a strong victory for their party’s ideology that there would be no competition from this point forward for control.
That did not happen. What the election has shown us is that we are more divided now than we have been since the civil war. And that’s concerning. As Jesus said: ““Every kingdom divided against itself is headed for destruction, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.” (Matt 12:25)
But, that’s not the most concerning thing to me at this moment. What’s more concerning to me is how entrenched we are in the reality of our party’s point of view.
I get it. It’s much easier and more enjoyable to talk to, listen to and engage with people and content that I agree with. It’s incredibly difficult and can be exhausting to engage people and ideas that are adamantly opposed to mine.
And I’m lazy. Not as lazy as I used to be. But, when something is going to take more effort than I want to expend and it’s something I don’t want to do anyway, I’m not very likely to do it.
And I’m impatient. I want resolution and reconciliation now. I don’t want to wait for it. I want people to see my point of view, recognize the error of their ways and come over to my side so we can live happily ever after.
What’s more challenging is the two ideologies dominating our society are becoming increasingly more religious in nature. These aren’t just philosophical disagreements anymore. These are beliefs we hold deeply in our hearts. Not only does this make is harder for us to find middle ground, it makes it harder for us to have open minds. I mean, when was the last time you heard a Christian and a Muslim coming together to work out their differences to form a new religion. Or a Catholic and a Hindu. It’s not going to happen.
Of course, when it comes to religion, it shouldn’t happen. But political philosophy is not religion. Your party holds to ideals that are counter-biblical. It doesn’t matter which one you adhere to. Because the party was never meant to be the source of our morality.
But that’s what we’ve made it. Now, both parties don’t just represent a philosophical and ideological framework we think works best to help move our country forward. Now, both parties represent a moral framework by which we must live our lives.
Because of this, our personal identity has gotten far too wrapped up in our political belief system. Now, who I am as a person is defined by my agreement with my parties ideology and my value is wrapped up in whether or not society supports or contends with my political identity. We no longer have political associations, we have political identities.
So then, when you disagree with my political affiliation, that means you disagree with who I am at a fundamental level. That means, you don’t just think differently, but that you dislike who I am as a person. In fact, I may even think that you hate me for holding the political point of view that I do.
We live in a world where one side believes unicorns are real and we have the science to back it up while the other side can confidently disprove their existence using science. Both sides discredit the scientists of the other, claiming they are letting their beliefs cloud their pursuit of the truth.
One side sees a world where unicorns are allowed to run and fly freely, sprinkling their magic all across society. The other side sees a world where there is no such think as unicorns and anything that looks like a unicorn must be disproven immediately.
It’s like half of the country lives in the Marvel Universe while the other half lives in the DC universe. Both think their universe is superior, and what they want more than anything is for their universe to confidently defeat the other. We want to see Superman and Captain America go at it. We want to see Iron Man and Batman face off in a head to head competition where the only way to win is by killing the other and eradicating their faulty thinking and broken universe from the face of the planet. And we were confident that when they did face off, our guy would be dominant. But they weren’t.
Here’s the thing, the law of non-contradiction states that contradictory propositions cannot both be true in the same sense at the same time. The Marvel Universe and the DC Universe cannot both be the best universe at the same time. Except for in soccer, someone has to win.
My concern in continuing down this path is that we will think that the only successful outcome is victory at all costs. That’s not going to end well for anyone.
Unless we can find a bigger why. What if we could find a why that did not require the defeat of those who disagree with us? What if we could find an outcome that did not elevate our personal point of view over that of others?
Until we find a bigger why, we will have no reason to compromise. We will have no reason to work together. If our why is our personal belief that we are right and the other side is wrong, our end goal will be to see our side victorious.
The problem is, for our side to be victorious means the defeat (and if we are being honest, we would hope for humiliation) of half of our fellow American citizens. You can hear it on voices on both sides in the media. We wanted to win. And not just a win, but a landslide. We wanted a decisive victory that would completely defeat and demoralize the opposition.
We may not agree on anything at the moment, but we are still citizens of the same United States of America. Fighting for the defeat and destruction of those who disagree is to fight against our own future success. We have never nor will we ever succeed by suppressing the voices of those who think differently than we do.
What is the bigger why?
May I make a suggestion?
The more we fight for our rights, the more divided we will be. Fighting for what you think is your right only pits you against those who don’t agree with you. It doesn’t matter what we think we are entitled to, the harder we fight for what we think we deserve, the more we must diminish others opinions of their own entitlement when they inevitably contradict our own.
Here’s the challenge: It only works if both sides agree to lay down their entitlement to their rights. If one person lays down their rights while another clings to their own, the one will be taken advantage of, abused and mistreated by other.
If my rights infringe on the rights of others, it is not a right, it is an entitlement. As someone who believes that God created everyone in His image, I believe that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. I do not believe in suppressing one person to artificially boost another. Any such boost will only live as long as that person is more powerful than the other.
But, if two people come together who are determined not to fight for their own rights and to take advantage of the other for their own personal advancement, then together they can truly work for the good of all. If I have your best interests in mind and you have my best interests driving you, then something different can happen.
Of course, being taken advantage of didn’t stop Jesus. He knew he would be taken advantage of, mistreated, abused and wrongfully executed, but still – He laid down his rights.
So, I guess at the end of the day, I’m asking: Are you fighting for victory for your side at the cost of your opponent? Or are you fighting for what’s best for us all at cost to yourself?
Things don’t have to be the way they are. We can change the future by changing the way we approach one another today. We can make the law of noncontradiction work in our favor if we’re not so focused on the contradiction and renew our focus on loving one another.