We’ve become the equivalent of a middle school playground.
You remember what it was like. Life was a popularity contest, with bullies, brats and drama queens ruling the playground. The smart students were excluded while their peers admired the brash, obnoxious kids.
This is what our nation seems to have become, though I think the metaphor is beginning to break down. I know middle schoolers, and most of them show more class and maturity than the adults who claim to be in charge.
No longer does wisdom have a voice in this discussion. The adults have left the room. In their place, the bullies and the brats have taken over, drowning out and ostracizing anybody who doesn’t look or sound like them or believe what they believe.
We stand on the verge of electing our next president. While I care deeply who that is, I’m even more concerned about what has become of the American people.
Jesus once said, “And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” This is exactly where we find ourselves—a house dividing against itself, breaking down into cliques on the playground, demanding people give us our way or be crushed.
I watch the news and scroll through social media and all I see is anger, vitriol and condemnation. Malicious gossip is shared as if it were fact. People of every race, gender, age, religion and socio-economic class are targets for slander and hatred.
Sometimes it’s violent, brash and loud; sometimes it’s soft-spoken and demure, but the message is the same. “We,” and people like us, have to be in power or calamity will strike, and any concession to the other side is intolerable weakness. “They” are the enemy. “They” must be defeated.
A house divided against itself cannot stand. And yet, this is what we are doing, and what is being done to us. Make no mistake: This ploy of scapegoating in the name of victory isn’t an accident, but the work of politicians and those in power who feed into basic human fears and twist them, in order to control them.
Some people do have the right to be angry and demand justice. Some people are correct in speaking loudly against injustice and being angry at the broken systems of our world. However, chances are you’re not one of them. Stop playing the victim unless you truly are victim to broken and unjust systems.
In 1858, Abraham Lincoln was running for the U.S. Senate. Considering the precarious state of the nation, he gave a speech and quoted Jesus: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” It was called too radical at the time and offensive to some, and he lost that race. He lost for seeking unity.
It’s time we grow up and grow together, seeking peace and understanding and compassion, and cease this bickering and bullying. It’s time to lower our voices and listen to one another. It’s time we ignore candidates who engage in name-calling and insults. We’re better than that.
If we remain this divided, it won’t matter who is elected. If we can’t stand together, then we’ll fall apart.
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