The Rebirth of Moderation

Have we had enough?

My brain hurts. My heart hurts. Here are just a few of the demoralizing, backward, and crazy-making things happening in the news this week:

Arizona wants to deport all the gays. (Pretty much.)

And so does the NFL. No, wait. Some POLITICIANS want the NFL to ban gay players. Cause pro ball is covered in the consitution?

Michael Dunn (of the ‘Loud Music Trial’) was not convicted of murder for killing a black teenager; and yet, prison phone calls reveal him saying that HE is the victim; and a letter he wrote says that if more people would shoot and kill ‘these thugs,’ then maybe they would ‘take the hint’ and ‘change their behavior.

And this state Senator in Virginia says that pregnant women are ‘just the host’ for their unborn child. You can guess what sort of rights he thinks these women should have to their bodies.

Mercy.

We’re all calling for mercy. Mercy from the tyranny of extreme ideologies that get made into laws. Mercy from backward worldviews that limit the personhood of sweeping demographics of people. Mercy from years of racism, sexism, and homophobia, coming to a twisted and apocolpytic climax right now, today. Mercy from systemic entitlement and privilege that do so much harm to so many. As a progressive–some might even say liberal–citizen of this country, I cannot take another story about the impact of conservative ideology on basic human rights.

Except…and here’s what I’ve been noticing… Conservatives are crying ‘mercy’ too.

Staunch Republicans–even the ones who initially pushed the bill through–are calling the AZ Governor to veto SB 1062. Whether it’s a politically motivated move on their part or not, they’re hearing the voices of their constituents–even those on ‘their’ side of the aisle–say that this bill is a travesty, and against the interests of way too many people. The most conservative voters I know are shaking their heads in disgust at the thought of legalized discrimination.

Most pro-life people I know would never say that a woman is ‘just a host’ for the alien fetus; and most think that healthcare should cover birth control, period.

And believe me, I know people who love guns. But they recognize that Stand Your Ground is not about guns. It’s about redneck daydreams of vigilante justice, come to life on a horrifying stage and ending in tragedy. Again and again.

And Football? I don’t know any person or group of people–regardless of  political leanings religious beliefs or geography–who want to see the federal government messing with FOOTBALL. God bless America, that ain’t right.

It may sound like I’m all over the place, but here’s the common thread between all these trending topics: moderation is about to have its day.

Here’s the good news to come of all this enormous YUCK in the news this week, and it’s been a long time coming: People on all sides of the aisle, and from many states of belief, have had enough. Enough of ‘faith’ being hauled out as a mask for all manner of ills; enough of political parties aligning themselves with religious groups, in a country that is supposed to protect one from the other; enough of labels that divide and tear down, when the essence of both faith AND country call us to connect and build up. It is coming fully and profoundly clear that nothing good comes from this kind of politicking or preaching. And I can only hope that it signals an impending shift in the conversation.

It will take an effort on both sides. For instance, Democrats have to stop saying “REPUBLICANS WANT TO SEND ALL THE GAYS TO PRISON” and stuff like that. No, it’s not “Republicans’ as a unified group. It’s a handful of crazies. As ever. Likewise, broad statements like ‘CHristians Against Women’s Rights,” “Athiests Against Prayer,” and “Democrats Who Want To Take Your Guns” are not helpful either. It is just not that simple any more.

Well…it never has been. Like we’ve been saying. But the masses are starting to catch on. Fundamentalism, in any form, is harmful. Whether you apply it to faith, politics, or just an ideology that emerges independent of religion. Extreme reactions, slanderous speech, and pandemic fear of the ‘other–’ whomever the other might be–have broken us. Setting ourselves apart in little camps of like-minded people has only bred death and destruction.

Maybe the efforts of the far right to catapult social progress back to the Jim Crow days are finally losing steam. Maybe the emotional railings of the far left are finally taking shape into something productive. And maybe people of faith on both sides, and everywhere in the middle, are finally ready to say that no political party, as a whole, can claim to be on the side of God.

Once that happens, we have no choice but to meet in the middle. You know what might happen in the middle? Progress. Change. Real discernment about the big issues–the girls, the guns, the gays–and real action in the interest of the greater good. Could we possibly have an election cycle that is about real people and not shady lumps of demographics? Maybe true leaders will emerge who can help us navigate the important stuff without name calling or fear mongering. Healthcare…education…poverty. Oh, a girl can dream.

I’m not saying there won’t be a few outliers who keep beating the drum for whatever brand of hate they want legalized next week. They will be there. But we will be here. We will be right here on the sensible, sacred middle ground; asking for a better conversation, hoping for life-giving discourse, and crying ‘mercy.’

 

 

 

 

About Erin Wathen

Rev. Erin Wathen is the Senior Pastor of Saint Andrew Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Olathe, KS (www.sacchome.org). She's a Kentucky native, a long-time desert dweller, and she writes about the sacred thread that runs through pretty much everything. For more info, click the 'about' tab above...


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