You surely remember the old nursery rhyme...
Bobby and Mary, sittin' in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g.
First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in a baby carriage.
Kids to this day use that one to tease one another about the wonder of attraction, and we know that boys and girls are sometimes merciless when it comes to picking on one another. Fortunately, we all grow up, and we (usually) have mature and healthy experiences with love and affection.
The poem has a few merits to it. The poem verbalizes the ideal. Love should come first, and then marriage, and then in time comes a baby in a baby carriage, and when done in good order, those are wonderful experiences, worthy of joy and celebration. Affection and attraction are good and proper, which can lead to relationship and commitment, and these traits form an essential part of our humanity.
Sadly, our relationships frequently do not endure, our attractions are sometimes fleeting, and rather than fulfilling and rewarding relationships, we too often end up in heartache and battle. And that applies to marriage, as well as to friendships, business partnerships, politics, and any relationship that involves humans. Rather than affection that leads to relationship, we have animosity that leads to conflict.
As a nation, we are more divided than any point since the Civil War. Politically and socially, we are polarized. The gap and distance between genders, races, rich and poor, liberal and conservative continues to widen, the chasm ever deeper. The weapons of warfare, usually words, grow ever sharper. Too often, the words become fists, bullets, and even legislation. There is a meanness, an anger in the debate and no one seems to want to find reason or middle ground in which we can treat one another with decency or dignity.
Twenty four hour news and social media contribute to the problems. A constant barrage of messages fan the flames of anxiety and polarization. Us versus them. The other side. Either you are with me or against me. You can clearly see the hostility and antagonism in our political leaders, in activists of every kind, even among religious leaders and those who claim to seek peace. There is a hatred, that is manifested in actions, which leads to further division. The result is not reconciliation, only more hate.
Humanity has a streak of merciless. It is time for all of us to grow up and find a better way to treat one another.
I have some friends that are as lefty liberal as you could imagine. I do not agree with everything on their social or political agenda, but they are my friends. I have some other friends that are so conservative they make the late Jerry Falwell look like a communist. I do not agree with everything on their agenda either. But they are still my friends. And I do my best to treat all of my friends with respect, and dignity, even when I disagree with them.
If I was inclined, I could argue with all the folks I know, criticize their opinions, and show them the error of their viewpoints, and the superiority of my own view. I am a fairly educated guy, I can win most of the arguments. But at what cost? Destroyed friendships, hurt feelings, bitterness. And none of the arguments will ever really change someone's mind. They usually just reinforce the animosity and radicalize the opinions.
Instead of arguing and trying to change the world through hate and division and emotional destruction, Jesus took the way of peace and grace. He showed love when people were not very lovely. He showed grace to the ungracious and undeserving. He showed us the intrinsic value of all people, even when people were wrong. Jesus took the way of peace, and he calls his followers to do the same. Because peace, grace, and love are what will change the world.
I firmly believe that our nation, our world is headed in bad direction. And the direction has nothing to do with the politics or social concerns of the day. The direction we are in has no bearing on gender or racial equality. The bad direction that we are pursuing is simply one where attack, criticize, and demean are the primary tools of communication. Where debate means only to argue and anger. And as long as we continue on with this hatefest, we will continue to be ever more divided, more stressed, more fractured as a community, a region, and nation.
So rather than argue, rather than add fuel to an already raging fire, let us all step back. Learn how to agree to disagree like ladies and gentlemen. Accept the fact that opinions and experiences will vary, and let that be acceptable. And start treating one another with decency and respect for all. We can disagree, but must we be so disagreeable about it?
The heavy metal singer Ozzy Osbourne had a hit with a song called "Crazy Train." One of the lyrics said, "Maybe, it's not too late, to learn how to love, and forget about hate." Now, if someone wild and crazy as Ozzy can see the error of this way of humanity, surely reasonable people can as well.
Blessings and Peace to you all,