I’m concerned about how we in America are increasingly polarized. I saw an interview with Tim Keller recently in which he said several years ago America would elect a President and everyone accepted that person as our President, but now those who voted for the opposition act as though the President’s time is office is illegitimate. It is sad that we, whether on the left or the right, act as though there is nothing praiseworthy or commendable in the other party.
Which is why I’m happy to see several Republican leaders commend and congratulate President Obama in addition to our military and intelligence personnel on the successful removal of Osama Bin Laden. I was also proud of Mr Obama’s address last night that presented the events in Afghanistan and Pakistan as part of a consistent American strategy; that is concurring in President Bush’s actions in those countries. I would love to see more points of agreement and recognition from individuals of either party that disagreement over priorities and goals doesn’t mean that those who disagree with you are stupid, corrupt, or malicious.
This is especially brought to light today as I had lunch with a friend of another Christian denomination who shared some misunderstandings about me as a Presbyterian. He had previously asked me some questions about my beliefs which allowed me to clarify what I believe. I was very grateful for the opportunity to explain my beliefs for myself, rather than have someone make assumptions about me based on caricature and distortion.
There is a strong temptation to only talk to people who we agree with, to read magazines and books written from a perspective we agree with, to get our “news” from stations or blogs that shares our own perspective. It’s easy to segregate ourselves in a little silo that supports how we see reality and cuts off conversation from anyone who sees things differently. Of course all this does is reinforce our own opinions and divides us further from our neighbor.
Wouldn’t it be more interesting to have lunch or a cup of coffee in the next week with someone you really disagree with and try to understand where they’re coming from? I bet it would be more productive than getting together with some folks who think just like you and fussing about what “those” people should do differently.