It is clear from news papers, political speeches, the local news, bumper stickers, and social media, the divides in this country are growing at a frighteningly rapid pace. America is moving from a powerful mosaic of various backgrounds and thoughts fixed together in a beautiful picture to just a pile of fragile glass breaking into more and smaller shards. Take and knee, protest police, back the soldier, republican, democrat, immigration, strong boarders, open boarders, socialized healthcare, fiscal responsibility, black lives matter, blue lives matter, pro-choice, pro-life, gun control, personal freedoms, equal rights, freedom of religion…do I need to go on? The issues that divide so many are all around us, but what frightens me the most is not the differing of opinions. It is the level of vitriol and hate between two people or groups that disagree.
Our disagreements are not just plain disagreements we need to discuss and think through. Our disagreements have become bitter wars in which we fight with anger and hate, and we feel free to use any tactic from smear campaigns, lies, yelling, and even physical violence to win. All that matters is winning the debate. I cannot log onto Facebook without reading multiple articles from both sides of an argument that are completely false and untrue. They are made up just to score a point for their side of an argument, and the lying is justified because the other side is ‘so wrong’ it makes our lies ok.
We have had national figures say we live in a post-truth or a relative-truth society. These statement mean the facts do not matter, only winning the arguments and getting people to agree with you matters. It’s disgusting. It’s scary, and we need to take a hard look in the mirror as a nation, as groups within that nation, and as individuals. If we do nothing, I fear that violence and hate will spread in our nation and our local communities.
As a pastor, I constantly look for the cause or the root of a problem. If a teenager gets drunk, which is a common situation I have ministered to, I don’t just tell them being drunk is dangerous. I want to know why. What is the cause of their drinking? And then I want to deal with that. Was the teen trying to fit it, trying to get attention, self-medicating a traumatic experience, curious, searching for courage, escaping responsibility, searching for joy, etc. To properly minister to a teenager’s drinking, I need to know the root or the reason for the alcohol. The same is true for the divides in our country. We are not going to heal the divides or soothe our situation by convincing people of our right opinions. We need to understand the root or the cause of our divides and the hate that accompanies them.
I have been pondering the cause of the divides in our country for a long time. Why can’t we agree? Why can’t we get along? Why has the hate and vitriol risen in our national debates and dialogue? After much thought and prayer, I believe whole-heartedly the problem is the sin of pride. We are too prideful in our positions. We are too prideful to admit we may not understand or even worse may have been wrong. We have become so prideful in our positions that we refuse to listen to the other side. We have become so prideful in our positions that we believe it is good to do whatever is necessary to push our opinions no matter how disgusting our tactics become.
We are so prideful that our opinions of ourselves are overinflated and those that disagree with us are viewed as scum.
Just look at the titles we have given those on the other side of an argument: snowflakes, deplorables, cucks, libatards, sjw, basement dwellers, birthers, Christian sharia, conned, conspiritard, drumpf, fake news, neckbeard, re-thug-licans…and there were plenty more, many of which I didn’t feel comfortable typing. We no longer disagree with John or Susan or Bob. We disagree with a stupid libitard or a stupid cuck. I think you get the idea. These terms reveal how we feel about ourselves and our opinions. We are perfect and right. These terms also reveal how we feel about those who disagree with us. They are stupid, inferior, and have no value.
Our most significant problem when it comes to the divides in our country is not that we have peoples who disagree and differ. It is the fact that we are so prideful in ourselves and in our opinions that other people have lost all value in our eyes and in our hearts.
The first step in healing our divides is not to convince the majority to agree with us. It is not obtaining or maintaining a Supreme Court that agrees with us. It is not obtaining and maintaining a majority in congress that agrees with us or even obtaining a hold on the Oval Office that agrees with us.
The first step in healing our divides is to lay down our pride. We need to read and believe Proverbs 16:18.
It is to have the courage to say, “I am just a person. I have thoughts and opinions of value, but I am not omniscient nor am I perfect. Here are my thoughts today.” We have to lay our pride down. Because here some truth for you, the person who disagrees with you has value. Their ideas have value. Their opinions have value. But most importantly, again, the person has value.
When we become so prideful in our thoughts, in our opinions, and in ourselves, those who disagree with us stop being people of value, and they become deplorables and snowflakes.
Our pride has been accompanied by anger, hate, vitriol, blindness, deafness, and violence.
Let’s take a quick look at football players taking a knee during the national anthem to stand for the black lives matter movement. If Colin Kaepernick cannot understand there are good reasons to stand for the anthem, such as honoring those who fought and died for our freedoms, then he has too much pride in his opinion. If Donald Trump cannot understand there is a reason they kneel that is worth examination, then he has too much pride in his opinion.
It is time we look across the divide and say they have value, their ideas have value, their are reasons they are on that side. Then, we will be ready to have real dialogue that can lead to growth and healing and togetherness and progress.
I have wondered for over a year what problems we could have solved if we would lay down our pride, see the value in our neighbors, see the value in those that disagree with us, and share a cup of coffee and a real conversation.
We just might have gotten a plan to prevent mass shootings. Raised our love and compassion for inner city black kids and our love and compassion for those put on a badge to protect and serve. We just might have a fiscally responsible budget that provides health care and education. Lower crime, lower poverty, lower hate, lower violence, and who knows what else.
It is time for us to understand our main problem that divides our nation is not a bunch of idiots that cannot see sense. It our own personal pride that prevents us from seeing the value of other people and their ideas. This does not mean there will never be disagreements and differing opinions, but by laying our pride down, we will be in a place to responsibly handle our disagreements without hate and vitriol. And we will be in a place ready for productive dialogue rather than destructive name calling.
Let’s lay down our pride. Let’s see the value in others. Because you know what, Jesus loves and died for the cucks, snowflakes, libitards, and re-thug-licans. Lay down your pride, and share a cup of coffee with Bill, Jane, Robert, Pricilla, and even your crazy Uncle…you know the one. To heal the divides, we must first lay down our pride.
Let’s become a mosaic again full of color, beauty, wonder, strength, hope, and progress by laying down our pride.
Thanks for reading, Preacher Jesse