Two countries?

As I listen  to the news coverage and read the newspapers and news magazines recently, I’ve begun to wonder if the United States is again splitting into two countries.

My reading of history would indicate that the last time there was this much division was 150 years ago–prior to the Civil War, when the division was North-South, business-agriculture, abolitionist-slavery… There wasn’t much desire to compromise on either side, and neither side seemed to be willing to listen to the other. Both were absolutely convinced of the rightness of their cause.

I’ve wondered what it would have been like to live then. Which side would I have been on? It seems so simple now…so clear.

But are we there again?

The divisions again seem clear-cut in so many ways, and obviously any way of describing them is going to imply which position I believe to be the “correct” one. So I think that rather than doing that, I’ll leave it to the reader to think about the divisions. It’s not hard to see them…all one has to do is to listen to two newscasts and the differences are starkly present.

Do we have to go down the same road that we did 150 years ago? Is there no way to find common ground?

I know many of our differences are based on the way we read the scriptures that have shaped us. But if our interpretations build walls rather than bridges…if they bring division rather than unity…then is there a chance that we’re reading them incorrectly? And if there’s that chance, then can we take the time to talk together? to actually talk with each other rather than past each other? Can we work together to find ways of meeting the needs that we hopefully all agree are present, even though we may not agree on what has brought us to this point?

It’s not easy. But if we lock ourselves into absolute rigidity for our own perspective, our own understanding, then it feels like we’re again traveling the road we did 150 years ago. I don’t want the same result we had then.

Rodney King said, “Can’t we all just get along?” I’m not asking us to put aside our own beliefs, our own understandings. I’m just asking us to try to find a way to work together to build bridges between our experiences, our beliefs, our understandings, so that we can truly become one country, not split into two.

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