A recent Wall Street Journal article spotlighted the role of Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals in the governing style of the current administration. Simultaneously, popular conservative columnist Todd Starnes has released a book, God Less America, detailing how polarized America has become on the subject of religion, and Christianity in particular.
First, a history lesson: ever since mankind managed to assure themselves of enough to eat to survive, they began to plot ways to divest their neighbor of his food or means of producing same. In fact, fighting over food sources may have preceded civilization, as illustrated in the opening scene of the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Unfortunately, whether community organizers like Alinsky and Obama, or conservative pundit like Starnes, when people talk in terms of war, they quickly devolve into talking about enemies. And that is where America finds itself today. Perhaps the worst trend of the twentieth century was the demise of communities—in both the demographic and sociological senses. We don’t know the person who lives next door; we work with strangers; we socialize anonymously. We move among strangers. And we are afraid.
We see each other as competitors or threats, not neighbors.
I’m not smart enough to know how to reverse this trend, but even I can see that this isn’t going to end well.
Somehow we need to begin to see each other as people again, not demographics and certainly not enemies. We need to dial back the rhetoric on all sides of social and politic issues toward seeking agreement, rather than drawing lines.
How? Wish I knew. I’d write a book. (Oh, I did.)
Maybe we could start by being polite to one another. Seeking common ground rather than points of contention. Reaching out to those in need, even if different from ourselves. Loving our neighbor as ourselves.