If you turn away from those who don’t think like you, you simply cannot complain about the state of politics in American today, you do not have the right to choose an America that only works for you or people just like you. Chance offense or hurt, your own or others, but actually listen to someone with intent to hear them instead of listening with the intent to change their mind. There’s only one who changes minds, and thank the Holy Spirit, it isn’t you.
I went on an epic rant to one of my best friends this morning (she was raised and leans more liberal, I was raised and lean more conservative, but no subject is off limits in our friendship and it’s one of the reasons I love her so dearly). It was over text message and we were both getting ready to leave for trips so not the most opportune way to rant, but when you live on opposite coasts, you do what you can to keep the spark alive.
My frustration had to do with a liberal elite smugness and a GOP’s smug we-told-you-so base I’m seeing in response to the election. Calls for “safe spaces and honest dialogue” and incredulity at the election outcome by liberals, and an absolute outright gloating and total blind-eye to the President-elect’s foibles, failures, and future blunders by conservatives. I was grateful, in one sense, that most of the Christians I know and respect did not vote for Trump, but that alone illustrates the issue: I surround myself with people with whom I agree. It’s called a confirmation bias and we all have them. The trick is to know you do and to not demonize the ones who don’t know, but to instead educate them and yourself along the way.
If you lean liberal and are simply scratching your head at the results here, read Hillbilly Elegy. It will do more to help you understand the situation at hand in one sitting, than this entire election season tried to do in one and half years.
If you were raised in a poor, predominantly white town, it would be helpful for you to understand what is actually going on in cities where perfectly normal and legal citizens of this country with varying races are simply trying to live, read: American Passage
If you were raised in a predominantly white evangelical setting and have trouble understanding the unrest by African-Americans, read: Letters to a Birmingham Jail
If you were raised in the north or the south, and are sure you aren’t racist, read: The Warmth of Other Suns
If you went to college pre-1990 and can’t figure out why Millennials care so much about the cost of higher education, read: Paying the Price.
If you were raised in a home where your parent’s income was considered Upper Middle Class or above, read: White Trash
If you were raised in a home where welfare, food stamps, and the food pantry was where you or your friends got food from, read: Bobos in Paradise
If you were raised in a home that leaned liberal or leaned conservative, but what you see happening today doesn’t reflect what you were raised to believe, read: Strangers in their Own Land.
If you are a pacifist or think all war is unjust, read The Heart and the Fist.
If no one in your immediate family has been deployed, read Tribe.
None of these books solve the crisis of divide at hand here, but they do give us a small glimpse into what “the other side” might be thinking or processing or what has bolstered their belief in what’s right.