This last week has been a political soap opera. With all due respect to both the bold and the beautiful, this week has been awful.
Not awful because a woman was finally given an opportunity to speak. Not awful because a man was finally given an opportunity to clear his name.
Awful because of how we have behaved.
Flip from one news source to the other… from FOX to CNN… MSNBC to the Weekly Standard… HuffPo to WaPo… the New York Times to the New York Post. You’ll read what you want to hear… “There is no way she is lying!” … “There is no way he is lying!” … “The gaps in her story don’t matter!”… “A 35 year old accusation doesn’t matter!”… “How dare you don’t believe her!”… “How dare you slander him!”… “How dare you!!”
In other words… how dare you think differently than me.
Sadly, we have been encouraged to believe only one perspective is right.
Sadly, we have been encouraged that because only one perspective is right, all other angles are either evil, ignorant or idiotic.
And sadly, we like to say so. Sometimes meanly.
No wonder many of us have chosen simply to tune it out. No wonder many of us just want to say our peace absent of any dialogue. No wonder many of us, too, find comfort in social media’s partisan echo chambers.
Friends, I, too, have not handled all things well. I can get riled up sometimes; this has been awful. But let me humbly share with you what I sincerely believe…
I believe that last week we witnessed two honorable people share what they believe to be true.
I also believe that the media has egged us on…
… and our politicians are playing politics. There is zero doubt in my mind that political motivations drove much of the tense conversation in last week’s Senate chambers.
There gathered what a wise friend termed “the layout of the representation of America. We had the Texan, the Southerner, the New Englanders, the Hawaiian, the West Coast, East Coast. It didn’t matter if they were Republicans or Democrats; they collectively showed the divide, the anger, the incivility, the circus that is our country.”
That’s what’s awful. Do we even want to be civil again?
When Sen. John McCain passed away last month, some said at times he was “the conscience of the nation.” He encouraged civility. He encouraged respect. He did not want to fuel the divide. In his final statement, in fact, he wrote: “We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe.” Those tribal rivalries aren’t just across the globe; last week they were on display in the U.S. Senate.
So now what?
Will we humble ourselves?
By that I mean… will we quit acting as if there is only one right perspective?… will we quit disparaging the person who holds a different perspective? … will we quit hanging out with the one who thinks differently? … will we quit learning from them? … will we quit telling them that they need to think like us? … will we quit judging and insulting them if they don’t think like us?… will we quit thinking that one party is a beacon of purity and the other is evil? … will we quit dwelling in partisan echo chambers? … will we quit thinking that we are so moral and the other party is so not? … will we quit turning a blind eye to the obvious political ploys in the party with which we most identify? … will we quit ignoring that they are manipulating both citizens and situations for their benefit? … will we quit engaging in personal attacks? … will we quit relying on those biased news sources for accurate news? … will we quit?
Will we quit throwing stones at one another?
Sadly, too many believe we must keep throwing stones. One month, it’s one party — the next, the other. And we justify the throwing by our tribal likeminded because “those guys did it first.” Do we not realize by continuing to justify the throwing of stones, we are doing damage? We are not being humble; we are instead contributing to the circus; and we are making things worse.
So again… now what?
Humbling ourselves, each of us — meaning respecting and loving our brothers and sisters, neighbors and strangers, no matter how different they look, act, vote, and think like us — such is the only honorable way.
Sure, that sentence is a little klunky. But I want to be clear. Respecting, loving, and interacting with the one who is different than us is the only honorable way.