“We are not enemies, but friends.
We must not be enemies.
Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.
The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
— President Abrahan Lincoln, first inaugural address, 1861.
For those of us in the U.S., we have just seen our democratic process play out once again in electing our President.
Once again, true to recent trends, the country is divided and polarized. The issues divide us, and there are many. Though the issues are quite complex, our discourse is often oversimplified, providing only the stark contrast and not the murky middle.
And we all too easily slip into demonizing the family, friends, and neighbors that hold the differing views.
Politicians and special interests have fed our frenzy with their onslaught of political ads that were unflinchingly, aggressively negative.
It has been like we are at war. With each other. A verbal civil war. Though far from civil.
It’s useful to recall that Lincoln’s words above were delivered on the eve of the American Civil War…
* * * * *
Today, while we are not at war with each other, the incivilities cannot be counted insignificant.
Perhaps you, like me, have experienced the polarization up close and personal.
People that I’ve called friends for many years are now estranged. We can’t seem to sustain a political conversation any more, in person or electronic. The views on both sides of the divide have hardened. What pushes us apart has overwhelmed what over the years had sustained our togetherness.
Can we — you, and me, and our political leaders —stop the demonizing?
Though our passionate opinions have strained our bonds and overshadowed our commonalities, we all have better angels, no?
Time we summon them up …