Thursday, January 3, 2013

Love Binds; Respect Unites

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So many issues in America today bring passionate responses from both sides.  Bring them up on Facebook, or even in family conversation, and watch the range of reactions.

Speak of guns, for example.  You'll have those saying 'you'll get my gun when you pry it from my rigid, icy, dead fingers' (myself included) and who are stockpiling additional weapons and ammunition just in case the 'liberal crazies' get their ban passed to those who want to tie all of us 'gun loving perpetrators of violence' to the back of a pickup and drag us through the desert until we come to our senses.  (I've lost the reference, but yes, that dragging through the desert idea was actually part of an Op/Ed newspaper article I read in the past few days.) Different thoughts about whether or not it's ethical and should be legal to own and use a gun isn't what bothers me.

We just had a very negatively fought and divisive national election where extremes ranged from comments stating President Obama is the 2nd coming of Christ personified to those calling him the cause for America's end and the Biblically prophesied anti-Christ of the last days to pretty much everything in between.  My personal opinion falls somewhere into the in between... though I've never made it secret that I don't support where I see him leading us.  But here again, it's not that a difference of opinion about the intent and leadership abilities of our current President exists that's giving me pause.

Say the words 'organic produce.'  You'll get a few plain vanilla complaints about the price but a lot of heated comments about taste, quality, nutrient density, poisoning the earth with chemicals, GMO corn as the root of most modern illness, cloned animals, research geared to show that organic is actually dangerous to consume because it contains bacterial contaminations and a whole slew of sub-issues relating to work conditions in third world countries, holistic medicine, medical malpractice, genetic modification of plants and animals being precursor steps to genetically modifying humans, etc.  Again, being a more middle of the road kind of person, I'm not upset that there are differing opinions about whether organic or modern factory farming is better.

And admit that you are thinking about getting a Pit Bull puppy and watch the battle rage.  You'll have people insist that they are nothing more than conniving canine assassins lying in wait for the opportunity to clamp their massive and very strong jaws around your neck to those (including me) who  say it's all about how the dog is treated and trained.  Though there are exceptions, just like humans defying their upbringing, generally if you treat an animal with kindness and love he'll be a gentle pet; beat him and train him to fight and he'll be a vicious killer.  If you disagree, I respect your right to your own opinion and suggest you get a different breed of puppy when you choose a pet for your home.

I could go on...  Immigration.  Capital punishment.  Welfare fraud.  Marijuana legalization.  Motor cycle helmets.  Speed limits.  Salaries for professional athletes.  Salaries for school teachers.  Salaries (and other perks) for Congress.

Or I can just get around to making my point...

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What if this contention is being purposefully created?

I'm really not a big conspiracy theorist, but I did find the suggestion intriguing that keeping us so passionately divided on individual issues is an intentional thing... a way to keep us from noticing the more nefarious things national and international governments are doing to bring about the so-called New World Order.  I remember in school being taught that we live in the United States of America.  The UNITED States and that the only way our country will fail is if we become divided.  A house divided cannot stand...  Sound familiar to anyone else?  From that perspective I find things like Texas threatening to secede troubling.  And I find equally troubling that some people are suggesting that they do it.  Quickly.  Because 'we' don't want 'them' in America anymore.

But honestly what struck the chord for me wasn't the whole government involvement angle so much as the idea that creating this divisiveness is intentional.  Where I differ with the the conspirator folks is on where the intent originates.

You see, at my core, I am a religious person.  I am a Christian.  I believe that the people who wrote Scripture were inspired with thoughts that are just as, if not more, relevant to life today than in the time when they were written.  When the Bible tells me to love my neighbor, (Matthew 22:39) I trust that there is a Divine reason.  When it tells me that God is Love (1 John 4:8) and that His love for each of us, His children, is unconditional (Acts 10:34) I believe it.  When it says I need to overcome the 'natural man' (1 Corinthians 2: 14) and become more like my Savior (Matthew 5:48) I see the need to do a better job loving people.

In every culture, love is the glue that binds people to each other.  It's the connection that holds a family together stronger than bloodlines.  It's what makes us friends.  In the same way, contention and discord are what pull people apart ruining relationships, destroying families, causing entire civilizations to fall.  The same Scriptures speak of Satan being the 'Father of all lies' (John 8:44); the very source of contention.  They tell us that his goal is make us as miserable as he is being separated from the love and light of God.

And the same Scriptures invite us to make a decision:  "Choose ye this day whom ye will serve." (Joshua 24:15)

While my practice is imperfect, I know my choice.  We are all flawed people and it's impossible to live up to a perfect standard.  Sometimes we act in ways, and we all do it, where actively loving is hard.  I know that there have been times I've looked at another person and thought to myself, 'I love you.  But right now I really don't like you.'  What holds us together in those moments is respect... respect for every person's right to opinion, to choose their own actions and words.  We don't have to agree but we do need to respect.

Love binds us.  Respect unites us.  And humanity needs a big dose of both right about now.

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