I just came upon an interesting statistic. Of the people who voted for Donald Trump in 2016, the percentage who regret their vote today is a whopping 3%. And of the people who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, the percentage who regret that vote is … hold your horses, a surprising … 3%! What does that tell you? Two things.
One: if the election were held again today it would result in the same outcome, and all the people who were shocked then? They’d just be shocked all over again. And two: it means this country seems hopelessly divided, more so than I can ever remember in my lifetime. And the division is huge. It’s not just over a few minor issues; it’s a totally different way of thinking that separates us. We don’t even speak the same language. And when we talk, we may think we’re communicating, but we are not. We are each speaking from a completely different mindset and no one is doing the work necessary to overcome that. We don’t even go to the same sources for our information. We each have sources who deliver the information we want to hear. We’re so far apart that no one has the tools to understand the other, and most everyone is using social media to babble on and on about their point of view without listening to anyone else.
There’s always been that concept in Congress — a spirit of bipartisanship — where we need only reach across the aisle to come to some consensus. It’s a nice idea, but our arms are too short to reach across this divide. We could maybe do this if we all lived in central Colorado, but it’s more like half of us live in Maine, and the other half in California, and we’re trying to reach across the Great Divide? It’s just too far to reach.
So what does all this have to do with your life and mine? It means we have a job to do as Christians to suddenly get some pretty long arms and do what we can to embrace everyone regardless. It means we need to go out of our way to try to understand each other, and accept each other when we can’t understand. And I’m not only talking Christian to non-Christian; I’m talking, as well, about Christian to Christian.
I was shocked recently to read in a blog of a respected Christian leader, a reference to Democrats as zombies. He was quick to say it was a joke, but I know a lot of people who would not have found that joke funny. Not only does it show disrespect for your fellow human beings, it shows disrespect for your fellow believers — your brothers and sisters in Christ. The fact is, Christians who are Republicans right now can’t even begin to understand how a Christian could possibly be a Democrat. And Christians who are Democrats can’t seem to tolerate the fact that most Christians they know are Republicans and they can’t figure that out either. How will we get along?
We will do the impossible. We will embrace those who are different and accept what we don’t understand. We will grow long arms. We will resist the temptation to only be around those who think like us, and seek those who are different. We will refuse to take part in degrading or disrespecting others because they see things differently than we do. We will choose to have love rule in all things. We will do as a friend of mine does — purposely choose to be around at least some people of a different persuasion so as to foster a new understanding. Just think about Lewis and Clark. Traveling across the Great Divide was a huge challenge, but a great adventure as well.
This situation is described well in the old Dave Mason song:
There ain’t no good guy
There ain’t no bad guy
There’s only you and me
And we just disagree
Haha. that is perfectly true. First thing we all have to do is realize there isn’t a good or bad guy. We are all aiming for the same things.
Yes, our arms seemed to have shrunk and atrophied over the years.
“Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him…
Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”
Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.
He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.”
~ Mark 3:1-6 (NIV)
We need to seek, first forgiveness, and then the Holy Spirit’s healing strength help so we can stretch out our hands toward others afflicted with shrunken arms and withered hands…
Beautiful that you would think of this!
John, this is one of your best writings yet on the big divide in our nation. Thank you!
I’m ready to stretch out. It isn’t going to change until we do. And stretching from the standpoint of Christ makes it a lot easier to do it and do it well.
Brilliantly put, as usual, John. When my wife and I were visiting Utah a couple of months ago, we ran into people who, when they found out we were from Canada, first asked if they could come back with us and second expressed shame, sorrow and embarrassment (or all three) about the state of politics and the president, in particular. But something one gallery owner said stuck with me. She said she had relatives who were Trump supporters, and “I just want to grab them and say, ‘What’s wrong with you?”
That is one sentence that needs to be cast into the sea with a millstone around its neck. So long as we consider that someone who disagrees with us has something wrong with them, we will never be able to reach across that Great Divide. In fact, we won’t even get our arms off our sides.
The world is not wrong as much as it is lost.
I do not believe that all Christian Republicans believe you can’t be Christian and be Democrat. And stating as a fact, like you did in your article, keeps promoting that as truth when it is true. Yes there are some that do and maybe they are more vocal so it seems as though they represent all Christian Republicans.
Obviously an overstatement for emphasis. I’m just trying to show that the divide runs deeper than I ever remember it going. I really can see why a Christian who is a Republican would have a hard time trying to figure out how a Christian could be a Democrat when they feel so strongly about abortion. But maybe a Democrat is willing to give that one up for a number of other things he/she thinks are more Christian. Politics are all about compromise and priorities and everyone’s priorities are going to be different.
And for those who think the chasm is too wide and the country too divided to ever be united again, I respectfully submit this from tonight’s NBC News:
“She was completely respectful to me… and so that kind of got me thinking: She’s a really nice lady. Just because she believes in a different God than the god I believe in, why am I hating these people?”
“… after the service, not a single one of them had anything negative to say. They’re all coming up and hugging me and shaking my hand, you know, building me up instead of tearing me down.”
Here is both the video and the transcript:
Shalom, Perfect Peace to each and every one of you this weekend…
Here’s the actual news story I watched this evening:
Bob, Thanks so much for these links. I’m sharing them.
My pleasure, John, thank you for sharing with others!
One thing the videos didn’t show (which is revealed in the transcript) was how Deeyah Khan, the “really nice lady” mentioned above, helped him during the violent Charlottesville rallies.
Parker said of this woman with darker skin, “I pretty much had heat exhaustion after the rally because we like to wear our black uniforms, and I drank a big Red Bull before the event. And I was hurting and she was trying to make sure I was OK,”
That small kind gesture of hers got him to thinking.
There is undoubtedly a lesson in there for all of us…
“…to those of you who will listen, I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
~ Luke 6: 27-28; Matthew 5:44
Thank you John!
What good is it if we only love those who love us back? Don’t even the pagans do that?
When did respect go out of style – even for believers? I am heartsick when I watch the news, plus now we have the primary campaign ads to be closely followed by the mid-term election vitriol.
When New York public school system trained me to be a leader and mediator in their Peer Leadership initiative there was one rule that came into play in every aspect of the program: If you must state a negative, you MUST state two positive aspects about the situation/person(s) first. If you can’t, you need to do some re-examining…starting with yourself. Also, NO personal attacks allowed – ever!