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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Right Wing, Left Wing: Learning to Get Along

During my Spring "Step Back" to reassess my political views and really rethink the way I approach political issues in my parenting I attended a meeting with my local MOPS group (Mother's of Preschoolers) which is a non-denominational Christian group that aims towards creating community for mothers of young children.  Our guest speaker (the Pastor at a local church) spoke about something I think truly applies to our current political atmosphere and it provided a refreshing thought that I wanted to share with you readers.  Regardless of your religious affiliations, I believe that this is universal advice that can transcend our barriers and really lead to the "new beginning" that we need this Spring.  To paraphrase, Ephesians 4 talks about unity and the interconnection and dependency between us.  It says:

I'm not typically the kind who run to the bible for advice in everything I do.  I find it helpful in teaching general lessons and giving genuine advice.  Like a well seasoned therapist or counselor.  It can help guide you to doing what you already feel in your heart is right.  It can allow you to see something in a new light that perhaps had disillusioned you before.  The bible can offer a lot, but I find that too much of the bible can be a bad thing *bare with me for a moment on this*.  Living too strictly to what is written in a book that was written over the course of thousands of years and by too many authors and translators to count is dangerous because it can lead to inflexibility.  This inflexibility can lead to justifying extremism in religious thought and doctrine.  I think we all can agree that extremism is a bad thing.  But the Bible if we can keep it's teachings within context and can not adhere too adamantly to the exact language of the text.  Instead we must extrapolate meaning and take the advice at its surface.

We must utilize the advice, understanding the context in which it is given.  Ephesians specifically was written by Paul (or a directly follower of Paul, there is some theological debate about the exact author) as a letter to "Saints" (or devote followers) in Ephesus (a Greek city) that focuses on calling for unity and reconciliation of the church ("church" meaning the actual people of the Christian faith, not a physical building).  It was letter meant to bring the people of the church together in unity to live and work together cooperatively and in their commonly shared love for their creator.  Understanding this context allows us to extrapolate a meaning for our current situation.  Just as the letter of Ephesians calls for unity

I think many of you might be able to see where I'm going with this.  The first part offers us a reminder: we are one people who's diversity makes us rich.  Just as the people of Ephesus needed to come together in unity through their love of God, we the people of The United States need to comet together in unity through our love of our country.  Just as Paul highlighted how the diversity and individual talents of the people of Ephesus can together to make "one body" that supports and builds itself up, Americans need to recognize and support how our uniquely rich diversity make us one nation, growing and working together towards our common good.  Just as Paul directs the Ephesians to "bear with each other" and keep the "bond of peace", we too must bear with each other (even though we don't agree) and work to keep a peaceful bond between us.  WE HAVE TO WORK TOGETHER IN PEACE FOR OUR COMMON GOAL (that goal being mutual prosperity for all people in our country, or what some call The American Dream).

Ephesians 4 goes on to say, 

This particular part of the chapter offers great advice for our currently political atmosphere and can also give us some idea as to how to deal with politics as parents.  The "how to" of the chapter.  Paul tells the Ephesians to speak to each other truthfully, not to speak in anger and allow the devil to get a "foothold".  We need to have honest conversations with each other without the danger allowing hate or fear to take hold.  Paul says to build each other up, get rid of bitterness, slander, anger.  WE NEED TO DO THIS TOO.  We need to find ways to look past the sourness of the election, stop using the resentment that the election created to bring each other down in violent speech and defamation, and find ways instead to bring each other up, find ways to benefit each other instead.  We need to forgive each other.

Unity, respectfulness, peacefulness, coming together to work for a common goal.  These are the values that American's hold in the highest regard.  As parents we work to teach our children these virtues.  I was reminded by an experience I had back in early January that touched me deeply.  I was visited by two Jehovah's Witnesses.  They are nice ladies who visit me every few months to give me a flier and a "food for thought" verse.  I thought that the verse they offered was perfect for our current political atmosphere, Colossians 3 12-14, which says:
BAM. That is what it's all about y'all. Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, and most of all LOVE. I don't think anyone can offer better advice than that.  We teach our children to share, we tell them to "get along", we tell them "use your nice words", and we direct them to behave in ways that respect others.  We need to take a page from our own parenting and ourselves become the learners. 

Do you have any other advice for learning to get along?  Do you have another religious text that provides similar advice?  Please share your RESPECTFUL comments below.  And while your here, take a few moments to visit a few of the other blog posts and share your email with us (top right corner of this page) to receive future posts from this blog.

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