There is no question that the current climate among Americans is tense and, as the Capitol Hill and 2020 riots show, even hostile.
Although these behaviors have always been present, it seems that the last decade has seen an increase in tribal tendencies.
We cling to the ankles of our political candidates, swear to personal and moral codes so vigilantly we will defend ourselves at the slightest provocation.
When the riots in 2020 sparked by the deaths of various people of color at the hands of police occurred, many conservatives referred to the rioters and protestors as thugs and terrorists (let me also emphasize the word “riot”; the peaceful protests of last year were great feats of unity for a pressing issue).
After the riot at Capitol Hill that sought to overturn the recent presidential election on Jan. 6, many progressives referred to the rioters and protestors as domestic terrorists.
Regardless of the reasons behind either events, the aftermath of each never resulted in unity but Americans making enemies out of one another.
I believe these two occurrences best define the current state of America: a country where neighbors hate each other because of a difference in values and misunderstandings of one another.
It seems that with every step we take forward we go 100 steps backward. So what is the key?
If we want to achieve unity in this country, then we need to stop labelling each other as “enemies” or “allies” and go back to “friends” or “strangers”.
I know I’m not alone when I say my first reactions to people I met with different values than mine were once negative and defensive.
To defeat that, we need to start taking steps toward understanding each other no matter how repulsed we may be initially.
The moment we refuse to listen past the words Republican or Democrat, Christian or Muslim, pro-choice or pro-life, black or white, then we continue the cycle of hate that both sides feed equally.
This does not mean we need to change what we believe, but what it does mean is that we need to start restoring the humanity in one another we once had.
Lord willing, once this happens then we may finally be able to vote and be proactive about causes without malice.