I Do Not Want to Fight


Politics, while technically defining systems of state governance adhered to by a given community, more often expresses itself as a person’s belief in a given system–whether that is adherence to one nation’s ideals, or to certain disputed opinions within that country.  Religion, likewise, is an expression of  belief.  In religion, individuals adhere to a set of beliefs that define the nature of universal existence, rather than existence within a community. Too often, however, it expresses itself as the right to personal existence, with disregard to the rights of others.

Both politics and religion can be used to present beautiful expressions of an ideal. They can also be used to justify the demonstration of very ugly behaviors in the pursuit of those ideals.  The ideals (platforms, catechisms, creeds) rarely project hate. Behaviors too often do.  People, in the name of politics or of religion, stand upon their hate to cushion them from their foundational ideals.  They build pathways on which to stand that circumvent the more difficult terrain of political craft or religious inquiry. The build houses in which to reside, separated from those who do not share their beliefs.  In this way, they navigate quickly and easily THROUGH through the philosophies they claim to embrace, failing to engage in the one thing philosophies need to flourish–dialogue. They REST only in places where they can avoid others who think differently.

What passes for debate in the political and religious forums of today lacks the back and forth EXCHANGE of ideas that characterize dialogue.  Exchange suggests an amiable giving and taking of ideas for the purpose of compromise, settlement, even agreement. What we see to often, these days, is a volley of ideas, hurled at one another.  The thoughts and beliefs of the opponent hit us in the face, splatter against our own beliefs in an attempt to destroy or obscure.  We are left defending ourselves, huddled down with arms wrapped protectively around our minds.

Conservative or Liberal, politicians who refuse to listen to the “other” side, who display only distain for the heartfelt beliefs or the thoughtfully constructed ideas of their opponents are not statesmen at all.  Fundamentalist or Liturgical, religious adherents who fail to love those who follow a different path, or stand at a different point in their spiritual journey are not religious at all.  These people are warrior-combatants, mercenaries who live for the fight.  And I want them to know:

I am an American.  I believe in the ideal of democracy.  That ideal, in it’s profession that all members of the community have an equal voice and equal rights, is not an easy or quickly navigated space.  I want to listen to and consider ideas that are not my own.  I want to look for common ground where we can discuss more comfortably those regions in which we disagree.  I do not want to fight.  I want to talk.

I am an ecumenical  Christian.  I believe in the ideal of forgiveness.  That ideal, it it’s profession of God’s love for all people, is not a sparse nor homogenous place.  I want to meet and listen to others who understand God in a different way.  I want to look for common space where we can more easily embrace and discuss our differences.  I do not want to fight.  I want to pray together.

Please don’t hurl your ideas at me, lest I defend myself.  Instead, offer them to me and I will nurture them.   Please don’t attack other people, lest I defend them. Offer them your hand and I will help you draw them closer to you.

Remove the hate from beneath your feet and feel the uneven ground that we all walk together.

posted under Thoughts

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