New year brings path choices
I have just finished going through a couple of weeks of newspapers and magazines. While we were in Corydon over Christmas, I had my Indianapolis paper held until we returned. I was amazed at what I had missed and the amount of complex new analysis and events that were addressed. I wondered how others had sorted through all the conflicts of the day.
It appears that 50 percent of our population hold opposing views to the other 50 percent of our citizens. These are complex issues not solvable by a glib shoot-from-the-hip response or slogan. And yet, rather than analyzing and assessing the individual issues, we simplify into a single question: Do you agree with Donald Trump or Barrack Obama?
I know we elect our leaders to represent us, and we have to turn legislation and policy over to them and the experts. But, how do we as responsible citizens hold them accountable for their actions and decisions? It really is a quandary as to who is right and what route to take.
We must always be alert to conditions around us. A democracy such as ours is precious and takes work.
As I pondered how I felt about today’s national and international discord, I looked for what I could do to hold strong to our beliefs and our institutions.
In the collected papers from the holidays I found the following hints of paths to follow.
One of the columns I read was written by Kent Allen, a pastor at Speedway Church of Christ. He laments that our lives get so compartmentalized we find ourselves separated from not just those with whom we have little in common, but also our traditions, sense of place and families as well. He writes that Christmas holds the key to reminding us that following Jesus ought, above all, require us to ‘relate’ to others and the world around us. To talk to each other, to be kind and to try to understand each other.
In a similar article by Teri Thomas, pastor of Northminster Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis, she wrote, ‘When we are able to come together as one, we demonstrate to the world a way toward unity that transcends our differences. We don’t break relationships over an election or a position or an opinion. Instead, we remain in conversation, in fellowship and in prayer with each other. We listen.’
Yet a different news feature told of a center for the study and development of civil discourse at the University of Virginia.
‘We’ve been through this before in American history,’ writes Meg Heubeck, the director. ‘We’ve had elections that have been tumultuous. We’ve had candidates who have been unusual, like Andrew Jackson. The way our government is set up protects us from the volatility of strong personalities.’
She goes on to say that we need to keep talking and discussing with others in order to avoid a rift that is too broad to heal.
We can form our ideas out of fear and direct our actions and policy from that same weak position, or we can think and plan and act from a positive position of hope and concern for our way of life. We can withdraw from people, places and ideas we do not understand or with whom we do not agree , or we can, with confidence, reach out and agree to disagree and seek a compromise.
I believe we would do well to practice the art of positive thinking as we address the challenges of January 2017. There is good reason to believe that if we speak in terms of maintaining positive thoughts and actions, we can affect the future in a positive manner.
Love is positive. Hate is negative.
As we face a new year, don’t we want to take the path of hope, commitment and promise?