In this current crisis our nation is in, there are many questions surrounding what we as the people of America should be doing. Some feel their rights are being violated and the rules are too strict. Others feel that the rules are not strict enough. Some want places to open up, others do not. Some want masks to be worn, others do not. Some claim we have the freedom to choose, others say the freedom to choose is hurting others.
What is the balance in this situation and ultimately, who is right and who is wrong? In my opinion, I will say the following: I do not know for a fact who is right and who is wrong, nor do I fully know what is right and what is wrong for this situation. However, what I do know is that when we are on opposing sides of an issue, logic, morals, and most importantly, listening are nonexistent. Our own biases take over, confirmation bias ensues, and war is inevitable.
When we are at odds with one another, we do not listen to the other side. We come at each other with attacks that degrade and humiliate and all we’re worried about is getting our point across and making sure the other side knows we are right. Arguments more times than not leads to someone getting hurt, it leads to broken relationships, and it leaves more devastation than if we would have said nothing at all. Oftentimes, it does not matter how “right” your argument may be, the other side will never believe anyways. The old saying “agree to disagree” is said many times but rarely implemented.
Think about all the things that divide us at this moment in time right now, Coronavirus: Threat or non-threat?, Shutdown or reopen?, Gather or Isolate?, Masks or No Masks?, Church or no church?, Trump or China?, News or Fake News?, Employment or Unemployment? State or Local?, State or Federal? Trump or Biden, Democrat or Republican?, and the list goes on and on and on. It is simply absurd to think about all of the things that divide us. How can we ever get along with so many divisions? Are we just going to have to be at odds forever? I will say this, if we were at odds over everything that divides us, we would get nowhere. The course of human history would end as we know it because no one would want to be around anyone because there is something about that person they just don’t like. There would be no one we would get along with if we were at odds over every little thing and everyone would not like anyone. But is that the way we are now? Of course not.
We get together with all sorts of people and we are around people we like and we associate with certain people because we like something about them. Whether that’s the same worldview, you like the same food, or the same sports team, you like people for certain reasons. There may be some things you don’t like but you overlook those for the qualities you do like. So why are we so divided now? Is the current situation just so huge that it is worth being divided over? Do we think of ourselves as being so right that we don’t care what we say or who we hurt? Selfishness has taken over and selflessness is unheard of.
I like to think that there is really only one way to dissolve an argument or dissolve divisions and it is the only way I have seen work. It is the golden rule, “Treat others like you want to be treated”. It was preached to us as kids and actually, Jesus said it himself long before any of us did (Luke 6:31). But let’s think about this for a moment. If we treat others with disrespect, hatred, and a tactless attitude, don’t expect love and kindness in return. The world does not like to show mercy and what you put in, you often get in return. However, if we treat others with dignity, respect, and tactfulness, the results you receive are absolutely amazing. When people are expecting hate, and they receive love, they often don’t know how to respond because they were not expecting such a generous attitude towards them. It’s like an unexpected shock that then leaves you feeling so good inside. The only way to stop hatred in its tracks is to send it back in love.
I, of course, am not the only one to think of such things. One of my favorite speakers, Dr. King said it best when he said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Dr. King lived in a time filled with hate. Jesus lived in a time filled with hate. Both of them lived in such a dark time that their lives ended in death (though one resurrected) because of the hate and evil surrounding them. Yet, even in the darkest hours man has ever seen, they both had the same message. They both had the same resolution, love. Love is the only thing that can bring us together. Paul on the issue of love says this, “If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:2). Without love, we are nothing. This does not mean we have to agree on everything, but in everything, we need love.