It’s the time of year when family and friends come to visit, and last weekend it was our turn to entertain my husband’s younger brother and his wife from Minnesota. We had a delightful time together, walking downtown, driving through the Hills and catching up on life.
We think differently from this couple when it comes to politics, religion and many of the passions of our lives, but we are learning over time how to appreciate and enjoy one another’s company. We are getting better at talking about the things we have in common, treading lightly in some areas, yet not being afraid to express our opinions and staying clear of things that would only result in discord.
I read with interest Cal Thomas’s column yesterday on reviving decency in America. In case you didn’t read it, he talked about democratic Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke giving a speech in which he praised Republican President Calvin Coolidge (born on July 4) for his commitment to civil rights and voting rights for women. In both a commencement address and a State of the Union address, Coolidge communicated the vital contribution of black people to our country as well as the importance of upholding their rights as citizens of the United States of America.
Thomas commented that Coolidge’s decent expressions of equality and a democrat’s words lauding a republican president almost seemed to come from another country. The vitriol we hear on a day to day basis here in America not only appears to be another country, but a whole different world. Family members, the president and the media, republicans and democrats, LGBT people and straights, atheists and Christians are all at odds with one another. Our society has become polarized and paralyzed by treating each other as enemies, expressing animosity and hatred.
Another magazine column I read was titled, “Being in hate.” We use the term “falling in love” and recognize the symptoms of something very real taking over and altering the couple’s brains, but the columnist wrote, “There is no comparable common expression for two people in hate, because few acknowledge that hate is mind altering…People who are in hate don’t know what they have lost. What they have lost is their very humanity.”
It appears that in some realms of our world today, hate has taken over and if carried to the extreme, will damage our homes, our institutions and our nation. C.S. Lewis in “Screwtape Letters” writes, “There is always something they insist on keeping, even at the price of misery.” On a personal level or in the public realm, hatred destroys and brings on misery. Whether or not you believe the story of Pharoah and the 10 plagues, the story unquestionably illustrates how a man consumed with hatred for the Israelites and a desire to keep them as slaves was willing to bring about total destruction to his entire nation by refusing to give in. Even some of his officials tried to reason with him, “Do you not yet understand that Egypt is ruined?”
The Fourth of July has just passed, a time when we reflect on the beginnings of our great country, but I think we need to equally ponder where we are today, how we treat each other personally and in public expression, lest one day we hear similar words, “Do you not yet understand that America is ruined?”