“[Jesus] knew what they were thinking and said to them, ‘Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand’” (Matthew 12.25, NRSV – see also Mark 3.23-27, and Luke 11.17).
The divisive politics of the moment, ongoing Russian interference in our elections and the inadequate countering of it, the predominance of false information, the highly questionable and allegedly illegal, and unethical and immoral behavior of key national leaders, are among the many things dividing and endangering our nation and the world.
On January 14th, the Southern Poverty Law Center featured an article on its homepage, splcenter.org, with the following lead-in, “White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller went against many Republicans when siding with white nationalists and other extremists on the issue of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, more commonly known as DACA, emails show.”
Our nation has been divided over numerous things; the Vietnam war, the Civil Rights movement, integration of public schools, and prayer in public schools, to name a few. The five-day Detroit Riots, which began on July 23, 1967, had their deep roots in the extreme poverty, oppression, racism, segregation, discrimination, and prejudice within and against Black Americans by politicians and law enforcement (see Britannica.com).
As far as our nation has come, our house remains divided. Racial, class, gender, health care, and age discrimination persist. According to a November 5, 2019 article by Erin Duffin on Statista.com, at 265 to 1, the United States was first in the “ratio between CEO and average worker pay in 2018, by country”. In the January 6, 2020 article entitled, California Officially Bans Hair Discrimination, on globalcitizen.org, Leah Rodriguez states, “California just became the first US state to ban discrimination against natural hair at school and in the workplace.”
As difficult as our struggles have been, the very institutions we rely on “to form a more perfect Union, established Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity” (Preamble to the Constitution of the United States) are under duress from without and within.
How do we come together as a nation? How do we stitch ourselves together? How do we overcome our own contributions to the divisions? How do we heal, restore, and create solid and peaceful relationships? How do we disintegrate the hard and soft barriers that keep us apart? What construction materials shall we use rebuild and modify our broken nation’s institutions and attitudes?
The best secular and religious teachings center on love and caring for all people and all creation. Being in favor of equality, egalitarianism, restorative justice in all areas of life, building up the human family, setting aside our negative generalizations and biases, establishing a better balance between self-protection and suspicion, remembering and reiterating the enormous boundary-breaking nature of love, which casts out fear, claiming the enormous power of repentance and forgiveness, recognizing the difference between constructs intended to suppress freedoms, and those designed to allow them to flourish, and standing up to gas-lighting on our quests for truth, are among things that can help us unite and stay united, for each other.
Rev Jim Sinclair
Pastor Jim is the minister for First United Baptist Church