Division and Unity

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It was the stark division of color that struck me.

As we watched the map turn from neutral to red or blue last night, the analysts’ monologues were all about urban and rural. I flashed back to an article I read earlier in the election season, which talked about rural voters’ support for Trump as a reaction to losing their way of life–not that they think they’re losing it, but that they are. (Well worth reading, but–language alert.)

Watching that sea of red develop in every state they zoomed in upon, with these pockets of blue concentrated around metro areas, was heartbreaking. It underscored the fact that we have lost the willingness, if not the ability, to empathize with the pain of the Other. For quite a while, I’ve been coming down pretty hard on people unwilling to consider or empathize with the problems faced by urban dwellers. In the past year, I’ve heard a lot of rural people refuse to give credence to the protests of those who experience racial injustice, for instance.

But looking at that map last night underscored that I’ve heard big fat crickets from urban people on the topics of concern to rural voters, too. Except guns, of course. Nobody’s allowed to ignore the NRA. But the truth is, we can’t even get a regular acknowledgment in our churches’ weekly prayers of the needs of the farmers who fill our tables. And that’s here in mid-Missouri, where the combines and grain elevators are only a ten-minute drive away. In the major urban centers, where thousands of people have never heard of a combine, let alone seen one, it’s surely worse.

It’s been a horrible election cycle, crowning a decade or two of increasingly horrible election cycles. We can say what we want about the nastiness of the rhetoric in the campaigns, but the rhetoric is at least as bad in our own conversations and social media comments. And when, at 3:30a.m., I knew there would be no more sleeping for me this night, I realized the only thing to do was to pray. Pray that the ascendance of this incredibly divisive new president will act as catalyst for a real change in our country. Not a change of policy at the national level–those will forever wax and wane–but a change of heart for each and every one of us. I pray that this will shock us all into realizing what we have done by refusing to be open to each other–by refusing to recognize the pain of the Other and make it our own.

Then, and only then, will we again be one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Related:

Mercy (or the lack of it) on the road to the White House

It’s Not Just What You Say–It’s How You Say It

Walking The Fine Line

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4 thoughts on “Division and Unity

  1. Ramona

    It sounds as if you feel we elected the wrong person for President. I may be misreading your sentiment. As Catholics, we could not possibly support the other candidate. The issue of life must be first and foremost.

    • I don’t believe Donald Trump is pro-life. I believe he said whatever he needed to say to get elected. His words and actions do not speak of respect for life and human dignity. But in truth, who was the “right” candidate isn’t the point of this post. When I talk about what this kind of attitude/behavior leads to, I’m talking about the division we’ve reached. We are so far apart, and so heart-hardened to the pain of those who don’t see the world the way we do, that a huge swath of the population felt that the only person who was listening to them was the one whose modus operandi is insults and assaults on human dignity. As Catholics, surely we can both agree that THAT is a tragedy.

      • Ramona

        I’m sorry we can’t agree on this. I agree that DT has shown a lack of concern for the dignity of others at times. And, yes, this does seem to be a great part of our American culture now. But I really can’t believe that you don’t mention HRC when you speak of a culture of insults and assaults on human dignity. She has made it quite clear how she feels about the dignity of the unborn child- right up to the moment of birth.

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