“We have met the enemy and he is us.” Walt Kelly, Earth Day 1970
Fifty years later, we have once again chosen sides – mostly against ourselves.
People tend to take sides before considering the all the facts and once sides are chosen, they never reconsider their stance or the facts again. We can find a parade of experts who will support whatever side of whatever issue we wish to take. We become so entrenched in our opinion, armed with stubbornness, blindness, and the weapons of hatred, we refuse to consider anything else.
Compassion, understanding, empathy, and genuine concern for the well being of others are values espoused by Jesus (namely, Matthew 22:36-40), and those who follow his teachings should as well. These same traits are found in our best social problem solvers and peacemakers. However, these traits are not sought after by the multitudes as honorable possessions. Instead, the crowd mentality maintains that the fault must lie with other side, and certainly not with us.
We conveniently forget those examples where opposing sides seriously listened to each other and developed lasting solutions, for example in Ireland and South Africa. The scars from the violence during The Troubles in Northern Ireland are still visible, but the negotiated peace continues to hold. Life is much better now, and the two countries are thriving. Remember the horrors of the fight against Apartheid? How many people died in that civil war? I remember seeing the news stories about it, and it was very ugly. Wiser, more peace-loving leaders lead that country to a much better place.
Americans tend to ignore those examples of achieving peace by sitting down together and working out compromises that benefit all sides. All we seem to do is consider how to strike the next blow in a never-ending argument that perpetuates generational hatred and destroys our society. We’ve come a long way on the path our 18th century founders set out for us. I’ve seen many changes over my lifetime that led us closer to the mantra that all men are created equal, but lately we seem to be walking backward. Our behavior toward our fellow citizens is often appalling, fueling hate and ramping up the primal drive for retribution. The rest of the world is watching and wondering if the dreams of the founders is coming to an end. Our enemies hope that is true.
Meanwhile, other countries are making progress against COVID-19 while we fight over trivial issues like wearing masks instead of asking what we can do to stop the spread of COVID-19. Other countries have stopped the spread of disease and are starting to deal with the important issues like getting their businesses open again. They’ve closed their borders to us because we’ve lost control. What does that say about us?
I thought at the outset of the pandemic our goals were to reduce the impact on health care systems and gain control over the virus so people could go back to living and working normally. Those goals seem to be lost in petty infighting. It’s time to crawl out of the trenches, shake hands, and work together for peace.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Matt. 5:9
Therefore let us peruse the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. Romans 14:19