Peace, baby

9 Jan

The shooting this weekend of Gabrielle Giffords and several others has got me thinking. 

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies
hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction….The chain reaction
of evil–hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars–must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of
annihilation.  – Martin Luther King, 1963

We are at war in this country.  I’m not talking about Afghanistan or Iraq, although those are symptoms.  There is a cultural war going on.  Red vs. Blue, conservative vs. liberal.  It’s being stoked by yellow journalism, but there is a real core issue that exists outside of the newsroom.

The only way to stop a war is with peace.

I’m a Democrat, a liberal.  Our reaction to the Tea Party and the conservative pundits is largely to laugh at them.  Not take them seriously.  That’s the common reaction to the Republicans, isn’t it?  “Aren’t they dumb?  They’re crazy!  What is wrong with them?  They don’t even like science!  They can’t even speak properly!  They don’t even know what’s good for them!”

That’s a bit insulting when you think about it. I mean, I think it comes from an understandable place; we’re afraid of this abandoning of reason, which we hold so dear.  But the fact is, it’s not working.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. 

Last summer I went to a concert that featured a lot of country music, something I don’t listen to very often. I was struck by the lyrics, and how so many of them were about pride in humble roots.  “Yeah, I may not have a lot of money,” they said, “but I’m here and I have just as much right to be proud as everybody else.”  What’s interesting to me is that they sound very defensive, like they’re reacting to someone telling them they’re not good enough.  Who is that they’re refuting so strongly?

Guess what – it’s us.

Would you like it if your perfect older sibling came in and told you how to do things, that they know better, and you’re wrong?  Of course not.  And you’d probably go against their advice just out of spite. 

Now, I don’t know if this is a correct assessment.  And that’s part of the problem.  But what I’m attempting to do is to look compassionately at these people, my fellow Americans, instead of seeing them as my enemy.

And that’s not all of it.  Buried under all the crazy talk, the Muslim nonsense, and Beck-Palin-Limbaugh-Fox, there is some truth.  Small government.  Economic growth.  People’s solutions to the problems they see.

Do I agree with all of them? No.  But I think we need to find a way to stop this war before it gets out of hand. Or further out of hand. 

So from now on, I’m going to make an effort to change my mind. When I find myself reading something a Republican says and thinking, “they are all nutjobs,” I’m going to stop myself.  I’m going to look for the truth, however small.  And I’m going to stop calling myself a liberal, or a Democrat.

I’m an American.

 


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