If all we do is fight over masks, social distancing and school openings, we have lost before we even start. And worse, much of the fighting is a struggle for political supremacy and the “fight to be right.”
Cancel culture? Both sides, all sides, are trying to cancel the others. Cancel cancel culture by remembering that we have more in common than what appears, yes appears, to separate us. Far more. Concentrate there.
That is the subject of today’s 15 minute episode.
Today’s Key Point: Yes, we are going right to the Key Point today. We must concentrate, focus on, commit to, the vast array of things that we have in common, and stop exaggerating and weaponizing our differences. We were built in a way that what we have in common, physically and mentally, is the main course, with our many and useful differences being the spices that take the meal from being plain and boring, to being delicious and delightful. Worse, we actually manage to fight over the meal to the point where no one gets to eat. We’ll start with a live, recent example of “faith fighting”, then go to race, the Constitution, gender and relationships.
My son, Sean, 32, observing a loud argument between two small groups of Christians on a public street in Sacramento, CA, said, “Dad, these guys are fighting, using the same Bible to get mad at each other.” And they were ignoring the core of their shared faith that means everything while they got wrapped up in being right–and angry–about far less meaningful points. He continued, “Our Father in heaven has given us His Word as a sword and instead of using it to fight the enemy some of us use it to fight each other. Jesus said where 2 or 3 are gathered in my name I am in the mist. So when this Christian group goes against that Christian group Jesus is standing in between asking why are my people fighting each other.” The arguing had gathered a crowd. Do you think any of the non-Christians were inspired to further examine what Christianity had to offer? Were any Christians there strengthened in their faith?
Critical Race Theory, voluntary segregation and microaggressions are beliefs and practices that tear us apart rather than bring us together. Let’s start with the vast and obvious similarities, the things we have in common. Physically we are all built in the same way. We all have the same parts, in the same places and they work in exactly the same way. That would be obvious if we saw each other in the shower, or on the operating table. We should not have to wait to see each other in caskets before we realize the physical sameness. And to varying degrees, we all have hopes and dreams, and need personal courage and encouragement from each other to realize them. We need each other. And there are just enough differences between the sexes and among the races to provide different perspectives and skills so that when we help each other, we act as a team, that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Now let’s add gender. The differences amongst the races and between the genders represent strengths that are designed to cover for, shore up, weaknesses in the races and genders. We are designed to be our best, to be all that we are designed to be, when we need and help each other. We are not the same, we are usefully different. Only by honoring those differences can we flourish. And here we are, using those very real and some imaginary differences to attack each other, reducing the value and potential not only of the groups attacked, but deflating and degrading all of us. Imagine with me if we all just stopped that dangerous nonsense and started, now, honoring and engaging with our amazing differences.
When a football team is on the field, the commonalities are obvious; there are 11, strong, skilled men on the field, with each one focused on two things: 1. doing his job, and 2. winning as a team. But the 11 have different types of strength, and different skills. No team could win with 11 quarterbacks, even if it was Tom Brady and the 10 next best QBs in the NFL. Perhaps more importantly, no team would last 15 minutes if the various positions fought to show the others their superiority, and the other positions’ inferiority. For example, if the tackles were constantly berating the running backs, and the receivers were all talking about quarterback oppression, the team would not win a game–and no fans would ever watch.
George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright and writer, once quipped that the US and Great Britain are, “Two countries, separated by a common language.” Are we two countries, Democrat and Republican, separated by a common Constitution? The Bible has some 1,500 pages, was written in different languages over centuries, and has a few dozen authors. The Constitution has less than 8K words, and was written at one time, by one group of men, and amended carefully and deliberately. Yet we can manage to slice and dice this carefully crafted document so that to some it can be seen as supporting a socialist state focusing on the human right to have things provided for free to the individual. Others see the Constitution as allowing only for a limited government, focusing on individual responsibilities and duties. Is the Constitution really that fuzzy, or do some groups distort it to fit their agendas, knowing that 99% of citizens will never read it? We are using the same Constitution to fight each other, ignoring both the core purpose of the Constitution and our commonalities as citizens. What was that purpose? The preamble supplies the answer. “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of …” We are not only missing the mark when it comes to goals like forming a more perfect union and ensuring domestic tranquility, but we are aiming in the opposite direction.
In almost every marriage, there are differences, including differences in strengths and weaknesses, between the spouses. Isn’t it obvious that any marriage works best when each person has opportunities to contribute in accordance with their strengths, shoring up the other spouse’s weaknesses? If one person is good at do-it-yourself projects and cooking, and the other is good with finances and helping the kids with math homework, isn’t it clear who should do what? What would that marriage be like if they pretended that they were both good at everything? Or worse, that the differences somehow represented deficiencies, and that honoring those differences somehow represented sexism?
Pause for an important truth: For all too many, it is not only easier but more satisfying to create controversies and pick easy to win fights than to do the hard work of actually making a contribution.
In 1776, the Revolutionaries represented many different strengths, everything from finance and diplomacy to military and political expertise to farming and ranching. It was to this richly different group that Ben Franklin directed his famous admonition. “We must all hang together, or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”
We will close today’s episode by going back to my son, Sean, with another quote. “If we are too busy fighting each other, we leave our backs exposed to the enemy.” The enemy can be Satan, and evils like greeed, false accusations and ignoring the need for personal responsibility. I go back to a quote from my favorite swamp possum, Pogo, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”
Did today’s episode stir up any new thoughts for you? If so, what might you be doing differently?
Tell me what you believe. I and many others want to know.
As always, whatever you do, do it in love. Without love, anything we do is empty. 1 Corinthians 16:14
As we get ready to wrap up, please do respond in the episodes with comments or questions about this episode or anything that comes to mind, or connect with me on Twitter, @willluden, Facebook, facebook.com/will.luden, and LinkedIn, www.linkedin.com/in/willluden/. And you can subscribe on your favorite device through Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and wherever you listen to podcasts.
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Will Luden, coming to you from 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.
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