The Politics of Division

Darkness divides – Light unites. Abraham Lincoln quoted the scriptures when he said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” (Mark 3:25). John Mott said, “An unbelieving world is the price we have paid for a divided Christendom.”

I grew up in a era when it appeared that this country was, to some degree coming together. I heard the speeches of Martin Luther King, I grew up in the midst of the race riots and still grew closer to my friends of color.  Many you probably remember the song (commandeered by Coca Cola), I’d like to teach the world to sing…  Things weren’t perfect, for many they weren’t even good. Poverty continued, there was a need for equality of wages, but we tore down a lot of walls that divided us.

Bear with me (even if you’re not religious), as I share an interesting parallel with you. In Romans 1, the apostle Paul begins a lengthy condemnation of the sins of the Gentiles. His rhetoric is so pointed that you can almost hear the Jews saying, “Amen, preach it Paul.” If you stopped reading in chapter 1 you might think Paul never really left his Jewish prejudices behind him when he became a Christian. In chapter 2 something very different takes place – he turns his attention to his own people (the Jews). “Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things” (Romans 2:1). The point is a simple and powerful one – we are all weak, sinful, and errant people. We are all in need of grace and mercy. We all have blind spots when it comes to our view of the world, politics, religion, etc.

I have always had a strong belief that the strength of America was in her people. That certainly was the prominent view of our founding fathers. They were very suspicious of government power and did their best to provide a system that allowed the people to put a check on government. We are now dangerously close to losing all that. Republican, Democrat, Liberal or Conservative – we all need to give thought to how much power we have surrendered to government. While the quote was spuriously attributed to Thomas Jefferson, it is still true – “A government big enough to give you everything you want, is a government big enough to take everything you have.”

It is not by accident that both Republicans and Democrats seek to divide the people. In  fomenting class and racial division they continue to solidify power. The politics of division works – not for the people, but for those in power. This post is a call for reason  among the people who were given the true power to govern – the citizens of this great country. All of us (on the right and left) keep electing men and women with the intent of silencing those on the other side. We want to take away the rights of those who disagree with us. In pursuing this course of action – we have systematically allowed government to first take away rights of those on the left, then those on the right, then those on the left…  You get the idea.

I am a conservative (but no longer party aligned). If I vote with the sole intent of silencing my liberal brothers – the government wins. They get to impose more restrictions on the people. In the next election if the liberals vote in order to silence conservatives – the government wins again. We remain divided, our civil rights taken away one by one.

Our founding fathers viewed government as a dangerous necessity and took every precaution to limit their power. The unfettered power they now control is the result of a divided citizenry. What if we united not on civil rights, or social issues, but in the clear understanding that the greatest threat to our freedom resides in Washington D.C.? What if we all agreed to “throw the bums out,” and elect men and women with one purpose in mind – to unleash the freedoms of EVERY citizen?

We all have strong feelings on abortion, women’s rights, civil rights, etc – but we err if we think the government can fix them. What if we elect men and women who ease the burden of government, reduce our national debt, and then allow these other issues to be debated and determined at local and state levels.

The politics of division is hurting all of us. A heart that pursues unity and the common good is the only hope for America.

 

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