There are sharp divisions in our country. The same politicians who said they would not take a Covid vaccine on the President’s recommendation in 2020 wonder why people are hesitant to take the same vaccine on the President’s recommendation in 2021. The only difference is the President is now from their party. Likewise, those once praising our past President’s push and realization of an effective vaccine in record time now express doubts about getting the vaccine. America must stop dividing into tribes and idolizing political leaders, trusting them to solve our problems.
Our news comes from our favorite cable channel that, for higher viewership, covers stories that tend to inflame viewers. Social media becomes an echo chamber confirming our feelings about the direction of our country. Politicians have learned conflict and anger raises money, votes, and volunteers. They avow they can solve our problems and their opponents are hell bent on destroying our country; even so they aren’t the cause for our divisiveness.
In the 12-step recovery program they say, “nothing changes if nothing changes.” The idea is the person staring back from the mirror is the only one who can really bring change. Social media and our own confirmation biases have “educated” us as experts in any field we choose and in the process we have lost our sense of neighborliness. On TV, Mr. Rogers taught how to be a good neighbor; a little less than 2,000 years ago, Jesus taught us who our neighbors are and it’s not just people we agree with or like.
Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan to answer a lawyer seeking justification for treating people he didn’t like differently. In this parable, a Jewish man was beaten by robbers who left him for dead. Two highly esteemed Jewish men, who the victim would have considered his neighbors, saw this victim on the road and each declined the opportunity to show compassion. Yet, it was a man from Samaria, from a people the Jews disdained, who saw the Jewish victim, had compassion, AND acted in compassion to rescue him.
The memes we launch like missiles into social media are not the balm our country needs. In 1908, in the midst of incredible political division, the London Times sent out letters to several famous authors asking each to answer one question: “What is wrong with the world today?” G. K. Chesterton replied with two words: “I am.”
What happens if we choose to treat everyone as our neighbor and not vilify those with different views?
If you want political discourse elevated in our country it starts with you; “nothing changes if nothing changes.”