Saturday, November 8, 2008

What Does it Mean to be United?

This is my last political post, promise! Unfortunately I couldn't refrain from leaving a few comments today but hopefully things will settle down in the blogosphere on the political talk soon.

Everyone is saying..."let's leave partisanship behind us!" now and "it's time to unite!"

But what does that mean? Is it possible? I just read this fantastic piece from Dave Barry (ht Texas in Africa, who else?) and was encouraged until I read the comments. I also heard on the news this week that most people who voted for a candidate said they would "feel scared" if the other guy won.

Uh-oh. Not very promising for unity.

So what does it mean to be united? Can we accomplish it?

First and foremost, it means that at the end of the day...people are people first regardless of their political beliefs. They love. They hate. They hurt. They bleed when you cut them, and their experiences in life are just as valid as yours. So it's important to respect their different experiences and ideas.

How can we do that?

1) Find the the goals that we agree on and work towards a common solution. This is an important distinction from harping on our preferred solutions to the detriment of our common goals.

2) Check our emotions at the door when engaging in political speak. There are many issues in our country that rile up the emotions faster than you can say Obama, and what happens is we can't see the other side at all. We get all worked up and before you know it we've said all manner of hateful things. Sadly, words carry enormous power and create divisions where once there was fragile unity or respect. It is not helpful to say someone who is pro-choice is a cold-blooded murderer nor is it helpful to say that someone who supported Prop 8 is a raging homophobe. Which leads me to...

3) Give your friends and acquaintances with different beliefs the benefit of the doubt. Assume they have a valid reason you have not considered for their position and be willing to truly let yourself listen to it. Respect their right as an individual to live according to their conscience, so long as they don't hurt others.

4) To Christians specifically, I'd like to quote Beth Moore and say "Disagreement is not sin. Prejudice is."

5) Celebrate a country where we can disagree! How wonderful is it that we can each have our own respecting opinions different than your own, you affirm this freedom.

We cannot hope our elected leaders will do this for us...we must be the leaders and love each other first. (yes, I used the l word)


Michele said...

Dave Barry is one of my favorites; always has been. And he's right: politics has changed tremendously over time. I think part of the problem is that once upon a time, everyone wanted pretty much the same things for our country, they just disagreed on how to get there.

Today, we (Americans) seem to want different things for our country. It's hard to find agreement on that.

But I also think that media of any kind tend to showcase the extremism and portray it as the norm when it's not. I find it interesting that many of my close friends/family are affiliated with another political party, yet we all seem to agree on basic principles. Of course none of us are extremist bat-poo crazy, so I guess that helps.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for a sensitively written post, Amy. Your suggestion about checking emotion at the door is a good one. I believe there are things we can all agree on, even if we don't necessarily share (exactly) how to address them...I truly believe there is common ground to be found, and it is THERE that we need to unite. There is so much name calling and extremist positions thrown out there. Often where we all get into trouble is when we make sweeping generalizations. I think it is also important not only to respect someone else's opinion, but to be tolerant of it...and to understand that perhaps OUR opinion is not the only one.

texasinafrica said...

"Disagreement is not sin" ... excellent. Great post, Amy. And thanks for the link!

Anonymous said...

I wish many more people would read this post - they are truly wise words and words to live by as we progress into the next year.

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

Great post - thanks Amy. :)

S. Krishna said...

What a great post. It's important to realize that unity isn't something that's just going to happen magically - if people really want it, they have to work to put aside differences! And you are totally right - as you and I have proven, it is not a sin to disagree. But we respect each other, and I think that is so important!

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