Please Don’t Ruin America

I am psychologically exhausted from the position I stand in. I have close and deep connections to Americans on both edges of the political spectrum in our country. As with any spectrum, it’s likely that most people are near the middle. I know plenty of those, but because of my roots in extremely conservative Christianity, my college years spent at an institution that is part of a far-left Christian denomination, and my professional sphere of the arts, I’ve got mostly extremes in my personal collection of people I know and hear and love. And y’all are wearing me out.

What I want to say to all of you (and my mom) is that none of you are as evil as the other side has decided you are. So, whether you read National Review or The New Yorker, please breathe. And please make a friend on the opposite end of the spectrum–and I don’t mean someone just down the line from you; I mean someone you think is politically (maybe also theologically) INSANE. And please read Brené Brown’s 2017 book “Braving the Wilderness.” In fact, please read it with your insane friend and please talk to each other. Please talk knowing that you will passionately and permanently disagree but knowing that we are all seeking basic human flourishing.

Basic human flourishing is something we can seek together if we can be respectful. However, what I’m hearing (and I’ve heard it since eating childhood lunches with Rush Limbaugh on the boom box) is degrading, disrespectful, and frankly absurd. If you live exclusively in one niche, you might not realize that all the vitriol your tribe uses to refer to “the others” is the same vitriol they’re using to describe you. So it’s clear you have at least that in common.

I do not think the Republicans want to ruin America. I do not think the Democrats want to ruin America. Furthermore, I do not think the Republicans are capable of ruining America, and I do not think the Democrats can pull it off either. I do think that a polarized concept of each other and a willingness to engage in ridicule absolutely can ruin a whole lot more than America.

I’ll be in my hammock with my reading list. It would probably horrify you if you saw what it includes.

2 thoughts on “Please Don’t Ruin America

  1. E. Calvin Beisner says:

    Thanks for this, Susan. Especially important is “none of you are as evil as the other side has decided you are.” Amen to that. And I’ll raise the ante a little: I think the vast majority of people on all points along the spectrum, farthest Left to farthest Right, INTEND what they perceive to be good ends, and we can all go a long way toward mutual understanding and peacefulness with each other if we all start out with that assumption about each other. So I’d re-word what you said more positively: “all of you are a whole lot better than the other side has decided you are.”

    So let’s work together at mutual understanding, listening respectfully to each other’s evidence and reasoning, and assuming good intent.

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