Last week we examined the idea of staying true to your convictions while being open to differing opinions. The concern I hear is that “these are desperate times and desperate times call for desperate measures. The people with whom I disagree have ideas that could destroy the country.” While I understand the concern, that’s a concern that I hear from people on both the right and left.
I encourage you to read Jon Meacham’s, “The Soul of America, The Battle for our Better Angels.” Meachem describes challenging times America has had since the Civil War. During my lifetime, we survived civil rights conflicts, Vietnam, Watergate, and the assassinations of President Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Robert Kennedy. As I became an adult there was a massacre in Jonestown and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Harvey Milk were assassinated and many other rough times. Sometimes, we’ve wanted to sever our relationship with the 50% of our fellow citizens with whom we disagree.
According to Meachem, there have been challenging times through-out our history. The second and third decade of the 20th century, saw the second wave of the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan became so strong that wherever you lived, there was a good chance that your representative in Congress or your Senator was a member. In 1924 Democratic Convention, Al Smith, a Catholic was running for President and the Democratic Convention was taken over by the Ku Klux Klan. Smith was nominated by the Democrats and lost to Calvin Coolidge in November. Thirty six years later, although John Kennedy probably lost some votes for being a Catholic, he won the election in 1960.
My message this week is that the United States has always been a work in progress, very outspoken about our country’s deficiencies and not satisfied until they’re settled. Since our deficiencies have never been settled, we’ve never been satisfied. Through-out our history there have been spirited, uncivil, and sometimes violent debates on the direction of the country. We’ve grappled with the issues and survived. In 2018 America, we have the same choices that we’ve always had. We can sever our relationship with the 50% of the country with whom we disagree, OR we can choose to grapple with the issues. This path would sometimes takes us three steps forward and two steps back. Sometimes it takes us two steps forward and three steps back. The thing is we keep grappling and that’s healthy.
That’s the path of finding common ground.
Finding common ground opens up possibilities.