Sunday, May 2, 2010

America's shame

Most of us see a title like the above and start thinking of people who disagree with us. And then Jesus slaps us upside the head:

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Matthew 5:43-48

I've heard that when Ronald Reagan was shot, his most forceful opponent, Democratic leader Tip O'Neill, went to the hospital and was seen praying and weeping at Reagan's bedside. Old politicos will tell you that a day of partisan debate always ended with an evening of bipartisan cocktails and dinner. No more.

America's shame is its polarization. We have so politicized (or overemphasized the politics of) pretty much everything - not just government, but churches, gender, generations, you name it - that almost all of our human connections are turned into adversarial interest groups. Our bonds of affection (to exhume a deceased Anglican ideal) are increasingly snarly circles of the like-minded.

It would take profound spiritual help and discipline for a citizen of Arizona to see a border crosser as a needy neighbor and not just a law breaker. For activists to see the 'Zonas as people concerned with their community health and safety and not "Nazis." For the U.S. and Mexico to see this as a common concern, not each others' "problem."

We're all under the same sun and the same clouds.

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