Calling on the Better Angels of Our Nature

I understand the fatigue of faux outrage. I am sympathetic to the frustration with the complexity of issues. The partisan tribalists shout and cry foul at nuance. The cry and din of the twenty four hour news cycle with its shrill voices bent on conflict is wearisome to say the least. To retreat from our patriotic duty to be informed and engaged is to acquiesce to those who would put party over principal and elections over people. It is easier to throw our hands up and say “it’s all corrupt a pox on all of them what can one person do I’m out.” Nothing great was ever accomplished by taking the easy way out.

However, it is our responsibility as patriots, as lovers of freedom and democracy to shift through the sophistry, malice and cartoonish self absorbed ego clutter laden mess that is our modern politics and remind ourselves of the core principles we believe in. Blaming, shaming, defaming, scapegoating and name calling does nothing to remind us of who we are and what we stand for.

Yes, it’s complex; yes, it will require us to pay a price to be informed; yes, it will alienate some who would rather yell than listen. Still, we should all strive to be listeners and not yellers.

There are moments in history when silence is complicit. On reflection we will have to ask ourself where we stood. The Japanese internment, the turning back of The St. Louis and our current treatment of global refugees and those seeking asylum at our border are just that kind of moment.

Renouncing inhumane policies of those who mostly align with you politically does not mean concession to one’s ideological beliefs. It is not a white flag of surrender to the opposition. Criticism of one’s own party is not heresy, it’s patriotism. To disagree with one’s own party does not mean you agree with the opposition party. Such partisan purity tests are morally bankrupt, intellectually week and damaging to our democracy.

Lincoln concluded his first inaugural address on the brink of civil war with these lines:

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Surely the better angels of our nature implore us to rise above petty partisanship, to do right by families in crisis. As the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the world we can find ways to protect our borders and provide for those who are in desperate circumstances. They are not mutually exclusive goals.

Matthew 25:35: For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in.