Los Angeles Times published two sad and probably accurate op-eds today detailing the political gulf in America. This is not about Congress’ inability to work across the aisle, but about average citizens not being able to, nor even wanting to be friends and neighbors with people who hold political views different than theirs. Diana Wagman writes about why as a liberal she can’t stand conservatives. Her neighbors whom she describes as generous and friendly become her enemies once she finds out their political leanings. Self-proclaimed conservative Charlotte Allen writes about her inability/unwillingness to converse with liberals about anything of substance. I wish these authors’ positions were exceptions to the rule, but I fear that is not the case. They are more likely reflecting what a lot of people in America think about people with different political views.
The complete lack of self-reflection in both pieces comes across as both striking and deluded. According to both authors, the reason they cannot speak with people who hold different political positions has nothing to do with the writers themselves, but with their opponents. It is their opponents who are dense, rude, and arrogant. The authors are paragons of reason. This is truly sad. Has the political impasse become so great that we cannot actually be neighbors anymore? Do we have to pass some ideological litmus test in order to borrow a cup of sugar from someone? A couple thousand years ago, Jesus had something to say to this kind of thinking and I think it is still true and radical today:
“Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.” (Matthew 7.1-5)
Given I just criticized a couple of my neighbors for their uncharitable views, it is probably time for me to heed Jesus’ words and go make sure I do not do the same thing, or worse. I probably have a few logs in my eyes. I hope we can focus on what unites us rather than seeing only what separates us.