What Is Wrong With Us?

Our country is in a rather distressing situation.  I chose those mild words deliberately because losing my mind over the current state of affairs is getting exhausting.

But really, we do seem to be headed for a fall: everyone is angry at someone; everyone is sure their side is right.  Everyone feels panic about something: guns, abortion, immigrants, you name it.  But how do we break through the noise and weirdness that has gripped our national discourse?  How do we ask real questions and listen to real answers?  Nearly every single thing I see on Twitter, or Facebook, or in the news features someone spouting their incredulity at "the other side."  All around us, people are fighting and ranting.  No one seems to be getting past the rant. 

Rants feel great, don't they?  Just this morning, I went on a very satisfying one about my ungrateful children and how infuriating it is to confront what seems like their complete lack of awareness and consideration.  I ranted.  I raved.  I expressed myself, energetically.  And then I took a deep breath and remembered that I love those crazy ingrates and that "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?" is not an effective parenting strategy. 

Neither is it an effective governing policy or problem-solving approach. 

But we do have a problem in this country: we are divided, and divided, we cannot stand.  This division will not stop and it will destroy our country unless we can figure out how to listen to each other and how to respect each other's humanity.

Up to this point, I have not betrayed my politics in this post, because the division problem we have isn't about who is right and who is wrong.  It's not about who you're going to vote for, or who you think is Anti-American.  It's about the humanity of the people we disagree with and our inability to honor it or even see it.  And we should.  Even in the people who infuriate us; even in the people who want to keep their guns at the expense of our children's lives; even the people who say that Democrats support killing babies; even the people who think that cruelty as an immigration policy is a totally OK, ends-justifies-the-means kind of strategy.  So there, now you know my politics.  Now, you either think I'm on the side of All Things Right and Good or you think I'm a Godless Communist.  You'll either welcome me into your fold or you'll write me off as an idiot.  You'll either give me my humanity or you won't. 

None of this will stop when Trump goes away unless we figure out how to build community with people we disagree with.  It will not stop until together we ask and try to answer: What is wrong with us?


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