I’m 53-years-old and I think this is the most divisive period of time I’ve lived through – and I’ve lived through a chunk of the 60s with the Vietnam War, Civil Rights, and more! Our country is kind of tearing itself apart right now so I thought it might be important to remind ourselves that we will always have more that unites us than divides us.
We All Hurt
Jesus told us that we would have trouble in this world (John 16:33) and there is not one person out there who hasn’t experienced some level of hardship. Instead of comparing and competing with each other, we ought to recognize that each person’s troubles are as valid as our own and show compassion and try to understand the underlying issues that cause people to respond to their pain the way they do.
We All Have Value
Because we all are made in the image of God, each of us has intrinsic value that comes from God that cannot be taken away by any man. There are no throw-away people in God’s economy so our goal should be to recognize the value of people even if they are people we cannot understand or relate to culturally.
We All Hate Evil
Unless you’re a psychopath or sociopath, we all oppose violence, greed, bullying, oppression, liars, cheats, thieves, selfishness, pride, envy, lust, anger, laziness, and the rest. And it’s not just an American thing – every culture since the beginning of civilization has pretty much hated these things and for good reason: God put it in us to oppose evil! We all struggle to not engage in it ourselves, but even when we do we hate it and are convicted by our actions unless we are too far gone and have become social deviants.
We All Are Compelled to Help Our Fellow Man
Deep down, we all know that we would help our neighbor in a crisis. You see it every time there is a tornado, hurricane, earthquake or some other natural disaster. Strangers help each other out, raising money, providing material goods, and even traveling to help dig out and repair the damage. Again, unless you’re just anti-social you know you’d help someone in need just as the Good Samaritan helped the fallen man.
We All Want What’s Best
Even though people disagree about how to get it, we all want pretty much the same thing! And if we’re honest with ourselves, we tend to make mountains out of mole hills when it comes to the how. We all want our children to be safe, cared for, loved, nurtured, and to grow up and have more opportunity than we had. We all want a strong economy so those who want to work can. We all want safe neighborhoods and strong communities. We all believe that we should care for those who cannot care for themselves. We all want people to have respect and dignity at every age. We actually are quite alike even if we come at these goals from very different perspectives.
We All Have the Same Needs
I like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs that shows us that we all have Physiological Needs (Food), Safety Needs (Shelter), Love/Belonging Needs (Relationship), Esteem Needs (Value), Self-Actualization Needs (Understanding). Those needs we all share came from one place: God! He made us in this way so that we would need each other and Him! Because we all have the same needs we should all be working together to ensure each of us has their needs met!
We All Have the Same Emotions
Even though we use them inappropriately a lot of the time, we all have the same emotions. We all can be happy, angry, jealous, eager, anxious, joyful, sad and all the rest. That means we all experience the same conditions which means we all are in the same boat! Understanding one another isn’t has hard as people make it if they would find the common ground instead of the differences that separate us.
We All Are Made the Same
Our bodies are incredible! Just think of the billions of moving parts that have to work just right to allow us to function as we do! We are all made the same – every one of us. But instead of recognizing that fact, we tend to look for the differences, men/women, black/white, healthy/disabled. Think about changing your thinking: If you’re cold, so is the other guy. If you’re hot, so is the other guy. If you’re hungry, so is the other guy. If you’re thirsty, so is the other guy. If you’re in physical pain, so is the other guy. Then it’s not so hard to find compassion when you understand you’re all experiencing the same thing!
We Are All Searching for Meaning
Personally, I think God put a hole in us that only He can fill. But everyone I’ve ever met is searching for meaning. They look for it in work, they look for it in relationship, they look for it in activities – it’s a constant search to find that thing that will “fulfill” them. We all do it – my prayer is that everyone figures out that God is the only thing that can fill that spot that we all have.
I supposed I could go on and list a dozen more things, but I hope you’re getting the point. There is much more that unites us than divides us, yet we constantly look for the differences instead of the commonalities. I’m as guilty as the next guy! When it comes to identity politics, I’m a white, conservative, Christian, middle-aged, baby boomer male. From that description you can pretty much tell the things I support and the things I don’t. But what we all have to learn is how to separate politics, issues, ideas and opinions from the actual person. You can dislike someone’s politics without hating the person. You can disagree with someone’s opinion without discounting and devaluing the person. Yes, it’s hard! But it’s part of adulting!
Jesus warned us that a divided house cannot stand (Matthew 12:22-28). I’m not talking about America, here, I’m talking about mankind. We’re tearing ourselves apart because we can’t do the simple thing Jesus told us to do: Love each other. Love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8), including all the things with which you disagree about your fellow-man!
So, let’s do this. Let’s ask forgiveness for our previous hard-heartedness toward others. Let’s give forgiveness to those who have offended us. Let’s stop degrading, discounting, and devaluing each other when we disagree. Instead, let’s pretend we’re adults who all are relatively the same with the same needs, dreams, and goals and see if we can lend each other a helping hand. Then, perhaps, we’ll be able to see the beauty in God’s creation.