John Wesley said, “Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may. Herein all the children of God may unite, notwithstanding these smaller differences.”
Mr. Wesley believed there were essentials of belief all Christians must adhere to in order to be considered Christian. Beyond those essentials, however, those on the road of life must live and let live for the dynamic of community to survive. If we don’t hang together, we certainly will all hang separately.
Election Day is behind. The future lies before us. Will we hang separately, or will we hang together as citizens of a great country that guarantees everyone “the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”? The citizens who took their responsibility and privilege seriously enough to vote have set the course for the nature of our social contract between citizen and government. This article was submitted before the vote was tallied. Consequently, I do not know whether it will follow the growth of government President Obama set forth in his first term. Two of those areas included health care (one-sixth of the economy) and using $830 billion in stimulus to establish industrial policy through massive amounts of tax dollars on favored companies and industries. Or, did the citizens vote to follow the path Charles Krauthammer described as “the more individualistic, energetic, innovative, risk-taking model of democratic governance” that has characterized the American experiment in democracy up to now, I do not know.
What I do know, however, is we need each other. The last several months focused on differences in philosophy, priorities, political party, and persons running for office. The next several years need to focus on the shared values and vision this country was founded upon. It is time to not just live together, but love each other.
We may not think alike, but we must love alike. Each citizen and layer of government is best served by persons listening to understand before responding to an idea or bill. Mutual respect is earned even as it is the beginning place for deepening trust, cooperating and the progress everyone seeks from the city to all three branches of national government.
Stagnation and stalemate must be overcome through the strength of loving. Often quoted in marriage ceremonies, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 describes this kind of love when it states “4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
The question that remains is this. Is it all about me, or are there times to sacrifice individual preferences for the common good? There is truth worth contending for as Jude, a New Testament writer, admonishes. Nevertheless, there is much we disagree on that should not divide us and prohibit forward momentum. United we stand. Divided we fall.