Sunday, November 06, 2016

The Middle Ground is the Humanity of the Enemy

"Let your light so shine" : I'm concerned that we're nearing the critical mass of hatred. We're at a dark time. Before it gets any darker, if you see someone promoting hatred, please try to counteract it -- with gentleness and respect. Bless those who curse us, pray for those who persecute us.

I beg your pardon for again mixing religion and politics. The tension in the U.S. is thicker than I've seen it in my lifetime. The issue is that the candidates are a little on the disturbing side this time around, which makes it tempting -- and so easy -- to mix religion and politics in order to justify hating people who have a different opinion of which is the lesser of two evils. I have heard both candidates called "Satanic" by people trying to incite hatred of the other team's candidate -- and the one inciting the hatred had been successfully inflamed by someone else's hatred. I have seen two people who are for the most part decent people -- and even consider themselves Christians -- make jokes about wishing the other party's candidate dead (I've heard that from one friend or relative on each side of the aisle). By a steady stream of dehumanizing messages about "them", we are being conditioned to hate, trained to despise people over the faults of candidates that, for the most part, nobody is defending. And there is nothing Christian about that.

When I talk about "middle ground" I don't want anyone to misunderstand. I am not saying that there is middle ground on (for instance) whether we should tolerate a public figure being lewd (language I'd prefer not to quote but I expect everyone has heard by now), or whether we should tolerate a politician's publicity team discussing "If the objective is purely to undermine the Benghazi hearings, I think these spots will certainly help do that." I'm saying that the best argument for Hillary is Trump, and the best argument for Trump is Hillary, and we should not be drawn into denying the humanity of another person by pretending that they support their candidate's flaws. There is something about the political process -- especially when the stakes are this high -- that tends to distort our view of "the other". I truly believe that we can't have that distorted a view of someone else unless we have first let someone else distort our perceptions and therefore to some extent distort us and our own worldview.

The middle ground is not to pretend that any of the awful stuff is ok; it's not. The middle ground is to remember that "the enemy" that voted for "the monster" (pardon, "the Satanic monster") is still human, and would probably have gladly voted for someone else given more (viable) choices. (This would have been such a great chance for a third party, if they had bothered to field a serious candidate.) The next four years are going to be rough enough no matter which of those two wins this election; we have to stick together better than that. If there is no middle ground, what options remain except deadlock, oppression or civil war?

According to Jesus, the greatest commandment is love of God, and the second is love of neighbor. Therefore Jesus -- and any religion that actually takes guidance from him -- will not provide top-cover for our hatred of our neighbor. If anyone cannot bear the thought of one or the other candidate escaping justice, we can take comfort: whoever escapes accountability for their crimes in this world, there is a Just Judge they will meet one day who was not appointed by a politician or bought by political groups, and no PR campaign in the world will help on that day. The same goes for us all, which is a thing that we can keep in mind, whenever we're tempted to hate.

Seriously, please help push back against the hatred when you see it on Facebook or elsewhere. 

3 comments:

Martin LaBar said...

Yes. Thanks.

Weekend Fisher said...

The aftermath of the election is not quite as bad as I thought (yet). I think it would help if President Obama made a clear call for a calm and peaceful transition. I would love to see him on the major networks each night, calling for the violence to stop.

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF

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