Russ Dean -- Unity
After one of the most frightening, disturbing, and disheartening days in the 245 years of our nation's history, the call for unity is today's rallying cry.
It's as unsurprising as was the home-grown insurrection itself: "Unity." "We want UNITY!"
Do you want national unity? Collaboration across the aisle in congress? Harmony between the races? Do you want to learn to understand, appreciate, get along with the one liberal at your family's Thanksgiving celebration, your gay colleague at work, the Christian fundamentalist next door, the interracial couple who just moved into the neighborhood?
As Jesus entered Jericho one day, a blind man was sitting in the street. When the crowd alerted him that a great miracle worker was coming his way, he stood and cried out for mercy. Jesus said to the blind man: "What do you want me to do for you?"
It's one of the strangest questions Jesus ever asked. Pretty tone deaf, don't you think? Surely Jesus didn't need to know what a blind man needed from a faith healer. Did he?
No. Jesus did not need to be informed about the man's infirmity. His blindness was as obvious as ours. (Obvious to everyone except the blind man.) No. This story isn't about a man's eyes. There's a much greater miracle. And if we want unity, it's a miracle we're going to have to experience. From the looks of it, we may need a miracle worker of our own.
Apparently Jesus knew something about wholeness - that unless we know what we want, really want, unless we can be completely honest about the heart of our problem, we're always going to fumble around in the dark. So, let me ask again:
Do you want national unity? Collaboration across the aisle in congress? Harmony between the races? Do you want to learn to understand, appreciate, get along with the one liberal in your family's Thanksgiving celebration, your gay colleague at work, the Christian fundamentalist next door, the interracial couple who just moved into the neighborhood?
If you want it, really want it, let me offer a suggestion I have made to my congregation: turn off the radio. (Or, really, just that one particular station.) Say goodbye to that angry TV pundit. Disconnect from the social media platform(s) that feed your dismay, disdain, disgust for anyone who happens to view the world from a different political perspective. It's been my soap box for a very long time. The talking heads who fuel your hatred for anyone who doesn't see the world as you do have been feeding the seeds of destruction for thirty years. (We have met the enemy - and it is us.)
Let me promise you that "the Democrats are not evil" (even though I've heard that literal quote two of the last three times I tuned-in to that particular TV station). Neither are the Republicans. All conservatives aren't narrow-minded bigots. And "liberal" does not mean "socialist." Trust me - we just have different ideas about how to achieve the same things you want for our country. (Fear-mongering with "socialism" is an old, easy trope.) And Joe Biden is not going to show up at your house on January 21 to steal all of your guns. Not a chance.
If we want unity, really want it, we've got to stop this madness. Check your sources. Do your homework. Do not forward another single piece of hate mail or any social media post that characterizes the politician you disagree with as an idiot or an animal. The stereotypes have got to go. The broad generalizations have to be beneath our dignity.
History tells us that nations do not last. Not even great ones. If you think our democracy is not tottering, you are not paying attention. (And it's not "their fault.") And if the shameful episode inciting Americans to attack their own government, kill their own fellow citizens, and jeopardize their own freedom does not prove to you that we need unity, there will be no proof.
But when they call for unity, that's not the question. The need is obvious. The question is do you want it?
(Dr. Russ Dean is a graduate of Clinton High School. He and his wife, Rev. Amy Jacks Dean, also a CHS graduate, are co-pastors of Park Road Baptist Church in Charlotte.)