A House Divided Cannot Stand: A Lament

A House Divided Cannot Stand: A Lament February 4, 2020

It’s far too easy to demonize from a distance. It’s easy to paint caricatures of people we do not know and project on to them all sorts of negative ideas, forcing them to become the scapegoat for all of our problems. If we can get rid of “them”, then we can at last achieve peace, justice, and a good life, the thinking goes.

But what happens we begin to demonize those who are close to us? What happens when we begin to spin tales and attribute evil motives to those who are close to us? To those who have historically stood next to us in the fight for truth, justice, and righteousness? What happens when we begin to question the motives of even our friends and allies?

This sense of paranoia has become the status quo in our current era. We have become suspicious of everyone and everything- we have lost our ability to trust in the motives of others, and see everything as a zero sum game. If you don’t align with “us” on every point, then you must be against us. In the words of President Abraham Lincoln, quoting a Jewish Prophet, “a house divided cannot stand.”

A house divided cannot stand.

A party divided cannot stand.

A church divided cannot stand.

A nation divided cannot stand.

This is how communities crumble. This is how nations collapse. When we are unwilling to allow for diversity of thought, opinion, and belief, and in fact, determine that all those who don’t see the world like us are fundamentally evil…that is a sure sign that our foundations are crumbling.

When we see everyone who differs from us as our enemies, we lose the ability to discern the real threats to our values and our wellbeing. When our team gaining power and influence is the only end for which we are willing to fight, rather than the common good of everyone, then we have begun to spiral towards destruction.

This is not to say that critiques of those who see things differently are wrong. This is not to say drawing contrasts where we differ from others is somehow damaging. We need to know where each other stand, we must know who is an ally in fighting for the future that we believe is best.

But when fear is our motivator, and malice the weapon for our fight, we can be sure that we are not moving towards a brighter future, but digging our own collective grave.

May we wake up and see that there is more that unites us than divides us. May the blinders be removed from our eyes to see that our neighbor is not our enemy, but is a fellow sojourner seeking to do what is right and good. May we choose to believe, once again, then when we set aside our own self-interests for the good of others, we can create the kind of world that allows all of us to flourish, in all of our diversity, together.

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