The national firestorm generated by the fight over whether or not to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to serve on the US Supreme Court brings into sharp focus for me a stark truth about America today. We are in the midst of what amounts to a civil war not unlike the Civil War that almost destroyed our country in Abraham Lincoln’s time. It is one which could eventually pose that same threat to us if we don’t address it now.
There is a cavernous divide between the underlying positions that people on the left and on the right are shouting at each other without either extreme actually considering the other side’s proposals. All of their positions, however, ignore the possibility of there being a middle ground inhabited by many, many Americans who stand frustrated between the fray. And what that middle ground is asking for, is seeking, is a civil discourse, not a civil war, to address the myriad of problems and threats that confront us and the world.
What they are getting, however, is deeper and deeper anger, animosity, threats and belligerent name calling from people entrenched in their side’s beliefs whatever they may be. This has got to stop because we don’t want to trod the dark paths it will lead us down.
The antidote to our wrenching division is for each of us to take a deep breath, step back, and recognize that everyone has a perspective that should be considered in a rational way. If we genuinely listen to one another it will lead to better understanding and foster discerning responses that can produce solutions we probably hadn’t previously recognized.
This level-headed exchange should be inspired by Abraham Lincoln’s deeply felt conclusions, which he expressed in his second inaugural address delivered in March 1865 after four long years of a bitter, bloody civil war:
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have born the battle, and for the widow and orphan – to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.
May these words be a constant reminder that we are one nation which stands as a beacon of democratic discourse and leadership for the rest of the world. We must not allow ourselves to destroy what that represents through one issue name calling.
So, let us come together to look at the bigger picture that is the mosaic of problems that confront us as a people and a country. Let us actually begin to hear each other out and then civilly reason together to find solutions which can bridge the gulf between us.