Saturday, October 03, 2009


This is from my Facebook page, but the overall ideas still apply:

As some of you may have noticed, I have some very strong opinions on some things that are happening in our country right now. There are decisions being made that are going to greatly impact all of us, no matter how Congress ultimately decides to proceed. We are dealing with things right now that should have been dealt with a long time ago, and there are strong opinions on both sides of these debates regarding what needs to be done.

I often post things that I know will ignite discussion, because I think we need to have a dialogue about these things and really examine why we think what we think, and if we are thinking for ourselves or letting someone else do our thinking for us.

I have one friend in particular that often debates with me about these subjects. We are each coming at things from very different places. I am decidedly more liberal than I was even one or two years ago, and abandoned portions of my conservative upbringing a long time ago. My friend is more conservative...much more...than I am, and approaches world issues from that perspective.

If you have ever read the "conversations" we have about these issues, each of us is passionate about our opinions of the matter at hand, and each of us presents what we believe are valid reasons for believing as we do. Our convictions are strong, and neither of us wavers much as our conversations go on.

These conversations can become heated, more often than not because it is so hard to judge the intention of someone's words simply by reading them. Also, as the conversations develop and it's clear that neither of us is budging, I think it's easy to pull out all the stops and give the most heavy hitting arguments for our positions, perhaps hoping to punch a gaping hole in the other's rationale.

Sometimes, even after the conversations have wrapped, I feel frustrated just reading the threads!

As I read them, though, I find something else. When each of us had made our case, and had time to simmer down and really attempt to understand the other's point of view, the one thing that becomes clear is that we're both working on reaching the same goal. While we may not agree at all about the methodology, the outcome each of us hopes for is to make the world a better place to be in by showing people love, unconditionally. We are both mothers who love our children and want to make the world the best place it can possibly be for them. We each understand that there is a world of people who are hurting and in need, and while we can't seem to agree on precisely how to handle that, we both understand that something has to be done. People cannot be left to suffer.

I also notice that we don't resort to tactics often used by the political pundits on several media outlets, which is to call names, condescend to those on the other side of the debate, and mock those whose ideas oppose our own. Our conversations remain respectful, with a sincere desire to understand the opposing view, even if we don't agree with it.

(Before anyone says it, yes, I do enjoy watching those pundits. I just think those tactics are best left for television or radio, as a form of entertainment of sorts.)

This makes me wonder what would happen if we, collectively, could put aside our political differences, religious differences, personal differences, and so forth, how much more could we accomplish to alleviate the suffering in the world around us? Whether we are looking at the immediate world around us, in our own home towns, or looking across the ocean to places in Africa, Indonesia, etc...people are hurting. People are dying when they could survive if they could get the help they needed. Women and children are being targeted for assault and exploitation to a degree we've never seen before. If we could put aside all the crap that divides us, what could we accomplish?

Perhaps that's idealistic. Maybe not, though. We don't have to change the whole world, just our own neighborhoods. We can manage that.

Thanks, Maurine, for helping me to see that the answers don't lie in an "us and them" mentality, but in the understanding that we're all in this together. We have to coexist, no matter what our differences are, so we may as well find a way to do it peacefully and productively. Our conversations get fiery and feisty, but have given me a lot of insight. Thanks!

Yes, it's idealistic, and an idea that unfortunately cannot work.

If all of our differences and world views are put aside, what is left? What is the glue that holds us together? We must have governments of some kind (we can't all fend for ourselves, because justice would be violated).

If there is only one government in the world, it will undoubtedly fly in the face of some (many) people's core values. (For example, what if that government decided it would be "fair" and best for the human race to limit couple's to having only two children apiece? That would be an assault against our God-given freedom.)

If we must put aside religious differences, then that will violate some (many) people's religious convictions to evangelize and practice their religion without restriction. "Don't tell me not to have a Nativity scene in public sight," one person will say. Another will say, "Don't tell me I have to feed starving people by slaughtering this cow that I worship." And another, "Don't tell me our women can hold public office."

So far in history, the USA has struck the best balance for freedom and order. It's an ideal we should strive to protect, not to weaken. In this world of sin, sometimes war is both just and called for to protect the innocent. There are too many evil factions in this world to be one big happy family and "just get along." It's simply untenable as long as Satan has influence on society.
It is very idealistic, and I realize fully that it will never, ever happen. Nor should it happen. It is unfortunate, though, that thse differences can't be put aside in order to accomplish even the smallest of goals. Our country is very divided right now, into "us" and "them". That doesn't accomplish anything. Nor would anything be accomplished if we were to strive for a universal "we". However, what if "we" decided that, just for one project, we were going to put aside the differences and do what needs to be done.

For example, in our community, this past summer saw a rise in crime perpetrated by teenagers. They vandalized the local park to such a degree that the township started locking the bathrooms, making it entirely inconvenient for people to bring their kids there for any length of time. Is locking the bathrooms the best solution, or could we put all the political differences aside, and come up with a better solution? Maybe people volunteering to monitor the park, in partnership with the police, ready to make a 911 call if they seen any problems.

That is what I am talking about. I know it's absurd to think we'll achieve world unity. And, as you pointed out, it would not work anyway. However, even in my small town, I am seeing such division right now between ideologies that even the smallest things are difficult to accomplish. Sometimes, standing unyieldingly on what makes us different prevents us from doing the things that we all agree need to be done.

That's what I was getting at, although I certainly did sound idealistic when I wrote this post. haha
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