I have acted out of character the past couple of weeks. For the first time, maybe ever, I have spent a significant amount of time watching both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. On top of that, I have spent time listening to, and reading, commentary given before, during, and after the Conventions on CNN, Fox News, and PBS.
Hey. Just doin’ my due diligence as a citizen. Here’s what I’m thinking tonight…
Listening to those who are profoundly entrenched on the far left or the far right is an exercise in absolute bewilderment for me. Each sees the other as the epitome of lunacy. They are both repulsed by the ideologies and policies of the other. They both see the other as manipulative, deceitful, self-centered, and bent on destroying everything good about America. Neither side trusts the other any further than they could throw them.
They each speak of the other, not only as ill-informed and deluded in their thinking, but as simply stupid for thinking and believing and behaving as they do. Each side sees itself as vastly superior. To hear their supporters talk, one would have to conclude the other side is not just incapable of leading our country, but wholly destined to lead us into economic and moral oblivion.
For these, the extremely opinionated, there is no hope of middle ground or compromise, because there is no trust, no respect, no listening, and no shared values. Each side stands smugly with their arms folded and backs bowed, believing they are smarter, wiser, and better people than those they oppose.
The thing that makes this attitude so nauseating to me, is both convention crowds are full of the best and brightest our country has to offer: grade school teachers, doctors, nurses, lawyers, business owners, corporate execs, college professors, scientists, engineers, architects, artists, financial advisers, military, law enforcement, parents, civic leaders, and maybe even a few pastors. I assume each of them is experienced, educated, well-read, and thoughtful. The last thing I would ever think of doing is to call them “stupid”, because of who they are going to vote for.
What an incredibly naive and insulting thing that would be for me to do.
It saddens me to witness our inability, or stubborn unwillingness, to embrace those who are politically different, as people of value, virtue, intellectual worth, and shared hope. Instead, lines are drawn deeper and judgment is cast.
And anymore, this thinking, this attitude, this way of interacting with people, has spilled over into most every other area of our lives.
I feel like I want to pray about it tonight.
But I just don’t have the words.