The beautiful gift of a wife in my life clerks at the front check-out of a nearby drugstore. She interacts with a wide variety of people. Just prior to the election, she engaged an older couple in conversation. She used over-heard comments about a candidate as her lead-in for personal conversation. Before long she knew the two people as US citizens, though the man’s accent and brief story placed him in Europe much of his life.
He commented he really didn’t understand the American emotional reaction across our society to politics generally. In comparison to our culture, elections in Europe produce much open even passionate debate over issues; but in contrast, people’s differences are accepted as natural and do not end friendships or even discussions. The give and take of disagreement are an accepted social discourse. Whereas here, speaking up for an issue or candidate is likely to cause an immediate and often awkward end to a conversation.
Even allowing for some faulty memory on his part, the point is obvious: we fail our own value of freedom of speech. Why? Perhaps we are so spoiled that being emotionally able to handle disagreement is beyond us. We are selfish in this country to want everything to be like we think it should be including the way others think. And in my view, we Christians are very willing to use a cold-shoulder or worse, condemnation and shunning, to enforce our view as the correct one.
It is ironic and pitiful to hear people on the one hand espouse the wonder of a political system which guarantees freedom of speech and religion–intended undeniably by our fore-fathers as a protection of the right to function according to one’s own conscience–and on the other to berate the choices of others in demeaning and disrespectful terms. Or maybe, just become quietly dismissive of the other person.
For those who espouse Christ and mouth words of being an alien on earth to do such strikes me as much more than irony, but a symptom of a lack of faith and a large infection of hypocrisy. These folks need to take two prayers, one of repentance and one begging God to reveal His love in their hearts for all those in the "enemy" political camp, and get a good night's rest.Reality check: when was the last time a conversation with a "politically" different acquaintance or friend ended with a heart-felt affirmation of the person regardless of their views? A kind of statement that assured the other person of a love true to all that 1 Corinthians 13 describes. Counter possibility: when was the last time a conversation with a "politically" different acquaintance or friend ended with a personally held concern for the moral failures of the person evidenced by their views? The conversation ended with keeping one's thoughts veiled under empty but socially accepted niceties.