A political civil war is raging in the United States.
And in war, one must choose a side.
So, I did a little self-assessment. A political leanings quiz said I am 52% conservative and 48% liberal: a centrist.
Hugging the middle line makes me a pariah of modern-day American politics–a system that is notoriously and rapaciously divided. The leftists shun me for my conservative inclinations when it comes to the constitution and economic policy, and the “evangelical”* right sneers at my admission that some liberal policies have the potential to make our country and our world a better place.
*Does this word have any real meaning anymore?
It might be helpful here to explain that I attribute my personal brand of centrism to two things:
1) a liberal arts education, and
I can feel the cringes from Christians and academics alike as they read that sentence.
Many right-wing Christians, even theologians, wag a finger at my decision to study philosophy in a liberal university. They quote out-of-context Scripture and use buzz-word phrases like “guarding your heart” in an attempt to convince me that my God is too vulnerable to withstand my questions.
Many of my friends in liberal academia scoff at my belief in the sanctity of life and roll their eyes at my inclination toward conservative taxation.
I’ve taken mud to the face from both sides, but I’ve also slung it a time or two. So, let me be clear: this is not a prescription for everyone to be more like me.
Rather, this is an invitation. You try on my glasses, and I’ll try on yours. Maybe we’ll both see a little more clearly.
Political pundits on both sides of the aisle admit that any progress toward preserving unity will only be achieved by both parties putting in real effort to bridge the divide.
For so long we’ve all believed that we could reach across the aisle with one hand while we cling to our chosen extremes with the other.
But we are learning the hard way that whatever bond is forged by opposing hands clasped in goodwill cannot withstand the blow from the closed fist of extremist ideology. The idea that we can reach true compromise with one hand behind our back is, at best, an illusion and, at worst, an assault on the unity our very name claims.
My philosophical training served to convince me that, despite what I want to believe, I am not always right.
Jesus has taught me (among other things) that no matter how right I think I am, self-centered piety never serves me well.
I wonder if the best recipe for political progress is temperance.
I wonder if liberals and conservatives and moderates alike might benefit less from ardent self-righteousness and more from sincere exploration of ideas, both our own and our opponents’.
I wonder if it’s time for both sides to call for a cease-fire.
I wonder if we may be drowning in a sea of hypocrisy as we cry for a leader who would cross the aisle while we refuse to do so ourselves, even within the confines of our own hearts and minds.
And I wonder if our last chance for survival is a life preserver of grace
tossed to us from a boat buoyed by humility.
If only we could muster the courage to reach out and grab hold.
What do you think? Am I overreacting? Am I onto something? Let’s discuss. I’m ready to look through your lens.