When was the last time you went to a campaign rally or turned on a news broadcast and heard a candidate say something like the following? “The choice in 2020 is very simple. You can bow down before the left wing mob. Or do you want to stand up tall and proud as Americans?” These were divisive words spoken by President Trump at a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 20. He went on to say: “The unhinged left-wing mob is trying to vandalize our history, desecrate our monuments, our beautiful monuments. Tear down our statues, and punish, cancel and persecute anyone who does not conform to their demands for absolute and total control…They want to demolish our heritage so they can impose their new repressive regime in its place.”
I’ve tried to avoid being too political in my writing and have been reluctant to criticize political leaders by name. But we are entering the danger zone in our American democracy and what I believe constitutes decency in our civic life together. It appears that our president has chosen to pit one segment of the country against another in his efforts to get re-elected.
Even more dangerous were his comments at another rally a few days later in Phoenix, Arizona where he accused supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement of committing treason against the United States. Reporting for Politicus USA, Jason Easley wrote: “The President of the United States is trying to use the peaceful protests demanding that systemic racism and police brutality be addressed to fan the flames of a race war that he hopes will carry him to reelection. Trump has replaced his dog whistle with a racist bullhorn.”
Whatever happened to civil discourse? When was it we lost the ability to agree to disagree, and yet respect one another for our differences of opinion? And even more radical, to perhaps listen and learn from each other? When did we think it appropriate to put other people down, dismiss those who disagree with us, and demonize those who are different from us? As a country, we have entered dangerous territory where extremists are emboldened. We need to step back from the brink, calm our passions, and learn to reason together again. We need leaders who can be healers rather than agitators, who can bring us together as a nation rather than drive us apart.
Let us seek to follow the wisdom of these verses from 1 Peter 3:8-12:
“Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called—that you might inherit a blessing.
For those who desire life and desire to see good days:
Let them keep their tongues from evil and their lips from speaking deceit;
Let them turn away from evil and do good;
Let them seek peace and pursue it.”
We are in the danger zone and only people of faith and good will can move us through it to safety. Rather than electing people who are divisive and focused only on their own power, we can choose those who desire to be servants for the greater good for our country and our world.