Lately much of what I hear is a debate about power. It may not be the stated or acknowledged topic, but between the lines or as the underlying theme? Almost always.
When we discuss what to do about refugees, we’re talking about power. When we debate who gets to own and fire guns, we’re talking about power. When we argue over the best next leader for the United States, the heart of that argument is power.
This is not new, but I really think we need to acknowledge it. If we don’t, we pretend to have different motives than those actually guiding our interactions. If we deceive ourselves, we cannot be straightforward with our opponents.
Take this another step. I think many people feel powerless. Many folks think–or imagine–that they have lost power they once had. Was there once a sense of control, of being master of one’s own destiny, that has gotten away? Is that why we’re so pissed off? Is that why all political discussions immediately devolve into insults and name-calling?
I’m asking questions here, because though I am generalizing, I’m certain these matters are more complex than simply the issue of power. Nonetheless, I see this issue acknowledged so rarely that I feel almost compelled to name it.
I hate–and I do mean that word, “hate”–how uncivil our political discourse has become. I’ve said this before and it bears repeating–how we treat one another is more important than who we vote for or our political stance. Jesus said so. There were crazy levels of politics and power struggles going on in Jesus’ time, folks popping up claiming to be the Messiah, a whole insurgent movement against Roman occupation, a religious/political party claiming the way forward was holiness (Pharisees), another claiming it was gaining secular influence (Sadducees), and then a bunch of people hoping for a military revolution led by an all-powerful Messiah from God who would crush enemies under his heel. And to that cyclone of conflicting factions, Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you: love one another as I have loved you. They shall know you by your love of one another.”
Yeah, they don’t. They, the non-Christians who see how we communicate, don’t know us by our love for one another so much when we scream over Hillary versus Bernie, or blare about how much we need to prevent these Syrian immigrants from entering our country so we don’t get blown to hell. In fact, we almost seem to take it as a matter of pride that we don’t engage in civil discourse, that we don’t allow for the possibility that we could be wrong on any single point because we know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that anyone who is of the opposite political persuasion from me, is both an idiot and an asshole.