Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Our Sacred Duty ...

Image Source - America's Library - Original Draft of Declaration of Independence

As citizens – as patriots – we have the obligation to be educated and informed: to come to our civic responsibilities with seriousness, with our homework done and in a thoughtful manner. We’ve allowed our political process to take on the most despicable aspects of a sporting rivalry. Too often we don’t think, we just scream our team’s name and talk trash about the “other side.” The problem with this is that it’s the kind of thing that leads to the horrors of history. If we vilify and dehumanize one another then we run the risk of repeating those histories. We create an environment where people feel justified in participating in the Kristallnacht, the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing or the attacks in Dallas or Orlando.

Bear with me –

We’re responsible. We allow and propagate shaming and hate baiting.

If we don’t want body shaming or people derided because of how they look, then we can’t participate in that. If we say we believe in religious freedom then that means for everyone. If we want our candidate or our ideas considered on their merits – then we have to do the work.
If we ridicule Trump for his appearance we perpetuate this practice.

If we accuse Obama of being a secret Muslim, …

If we deride someone through memes or ugly pictures – we perpetuate that practice. I’ve seen terrible pictures of Melania, Michelle, Hillary and Donald.

If we demonize, if we vilify, if we use foul terms to refer to one another, if we engage in name calling and lose sight of our mutual humanity, we perpetuate, cultivate this kind of culture. When we lose sight of our individual humanity, when we demonize groups and refuse to engage in the harder work of taking us each on the content of our characters (King) – then we lose our empathy. Empathy is what holds us back from violence. Empathy knits us together and cultivates caring. Let us try to imagine into one another and understand where we are coming from.

I beg you to take a pledge to not participate in hate baiting – to be a bit more forgiving, a bit more kind …

Do the thinking. Discuss what bothers you, your fears, your hopes, how we can together achieve a better world. Do comparative research. Do the work of having real exchanges. Let us privilege a conversation of ideas and policies. Let us take seriously the future of our nation. Let us cultivate the “angels of our better nature.”

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