The present political climate is the most divisive in my living memory. Somewhere along the way, I fear people have forgotten that what our beliefs
are, which "side" we choose, and what we want to see happen in our lives and the world, are equaled in importance by how we go about
disagreeing with those who don't share our views. In this topic, I would like to give examples and stories of people showing common civility and good
will toward one another across these political divides, in order to accentuate that principle.
Firstly, because in addition to political division (and because in its own way, it is
political division) religious division is also so often
focused upon, I want to offer an example of Muslims and Christians working together to do good. I think many imagine when this sort of moderate
cooperation takes place, it must be only isolated instances that occur in the West. But this is happening in Iraq and Syria.
“It’s helping each other, it’s loving your neighbor, it’s never to sleep full when your neighbor is hungry,” Ahmed explains.
But that belief comes with a price: separation from her parents and living in constant fear.
Ahmed’s parents fled to Jordan after the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003. She remained in Iraq to finish school, but when she saw the humanitarian need,
she couldn’t leave. She is now part of the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, which works with leaders from different
She says the goal is simple: “Stop for one second and listen to the other part and accept the other in your life.”
And that is by no stretch of the imagination an isolated example.
And in the more firmly political sphere, we have this recent example.
Democrats have launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise $10,000 to help reopen a firebombed Republican county office in North Carolina.
“As Democrats, we are starting this campaign to enable the Orange County, North Carolina Republican office to reopen as soon as possible,” the
Just four hours after the donation page launched, almost $8,500 had been raised.
We can choose whether to cynically see this as nothing more than political opportunism, or even debate who carried out the atrocious act in the first
place... or to view this as what I choose to: an example of genuine bipartisan civility, placing the principle thereof above political hostility, in
defiance of whatever extremists chose violence rather than discourse.
Speaking of bipartisanship...
In a sparkling show of bipartisanship, the House of Representatives and Congress passed the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights on Friday,
The legislation emphasizes survivors’ free access to rape kits, which are key pieces of evidence necessary for a proper court case.
There are still things that unite people despite whatever differences exist, or how deeply held and felt they may be. I fully acknowledge the massive
corruption and frustration intrinsic to our political system today. But short of running for office ourselves, the only way I can conceive of to
change that - even if it's only one iota at a time - is to individually, personally strive for civility and mutual respect.
Speaking of personal bridge building...
Larry Imerman is a Republican precinct delegate from Bloomfield Township. His wife Miriam is the Democratic precinct delegate for the same area.
Politically speaking, they’re the odd couple.
And yet, listening to the two talk politics over breakfast at Nello’s in Royal Oak, one can remember the good old days when the two parties seemed
to get along better.
They are not only from opposite sides of the isle... they are politically active participants in their respective parties' functioning. And yet, these
two devoted their lives to one another's happiness, in a bond of love.
Finally, I'd like to conclude with a quote from congressman Trey Gowdy, someone I disagree with politically on an enormous range of issues, and who
has made a lot of waves of late for his aggressive (but in my opinion quick witted and insightful) criticism of many involved in the FBI Clinton
probe, among other issues. Whatever else he may espouse, whatever I may disagree with, this is something he said when describing how to persuade and
argue, in a speech not so long ago:
“Insults don’t work. Hypocrisy doesn’t work. Telling people to live their lives a certain way while we live our lives another way doesn’t
“You are the messenger that is going to change your world. I am not asking you to be like Ronald Reagan or Abraham Lincoln. I am asking you to live
a quiet life of conviction and virtue and actually live out what you profess to believe...”
Now, one may agree or disagree with what that means to him personally. I disagree with much of what he says beyond that. (As I do with the positions
of the above sources in many aspects.) But the principle he is describing is absolutely what I believe, and I have enormous respect for him saying
this in the present political climate. That kind of respect can exist simultaneous with disagreement.
I am not voting for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. However, no matter how profoundly I may disagree with each of them politically or in terms of
policy, I have made a vow to myself to stubbornly and defiantly refuse to hate either of them as human beings or citizens. Likewise their supporters,
and everyone in between.
Consider this my humble plea and encouragement: I'm not saying there are never times when we have to stand up for what we believe in, or even
zealously defend it. But there is always, always time to stop, think, and reflect before we speak, type, or hit send. There is always a better way to
argue, to disagree, and to debate, than what has become the norm of late in my opinion. And there is always the possibility of working harder within
ourselves to cultivate a spirit of fellowship and mutual - however grudging it may be, or how hard it may be to summon - respect. Even If only on the
basis that we're all people.
Feel free, as we all are, to disagree. Just my two cents, as always.
edit on 10/23/2016 by AceWombat04 because: Typo