What the world needs now according to the popular song recorded in 1965 by Jackie DeShannon “is love, sweet love”. While I do not disagree, I suggest something a bit more specific for 2016. It is needed not only for the presidential election cycle, but politics in general. As often as fingers our pointed at others, it is we in everyday life that would benefit most. The need has been apparent for years, but cries for it are reaching a fever pitch. What specifically am I referring to? I am working up to it.
It is something fairly well known in Siloam Springs, but referred to last week at a funeral by Tony Barnes. The widow of Willie Williams asked Tony to share a few words about his fellow Rotarian, dinner and breakfast club, and neighborhood friend. Sounds pretty normal does it not? Normal except that Tony is an unabashed liberal Democrat and, well if you read Willie’s weekly column in this newspaper you would know, Willie was an unabashed conservative Republican.
As Tony put it during the funeral, “we could disagree on politics and part as friends”. No name-calling, no degradation of character, and no malice; only two friends of above average intelligence coming from different political persuasions searching for the common good. It is the epitome of “reaching across the aisle” often talked about today, but rarely demonstrated. This trait and way of working together has not always been in such short supply. It is desperately needed today as a concrete specific result of love.
Jesus said, “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” Do you know where that leads? Paul described it to his mentee, Timothy, this way. “In the last days, People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.” The inability to love expressed by disagreeing yet parting, as friends will destroy us.
I can disagree and still be friends. There is no reason to call someone a hater, loser, stupid, etc. when you disagree or are losing a discussion. When asked, “Don’t you agree?”, a simple yes or no is sometimes the best answer rather than allowing the discussion to spiral downhill. Some just will not learn or take a hint. Sadly, sometimes the only way to prevent becoming part of the problem is to “Have nothing to do with them”.
It is possible to disagree strongly and not kill someone. In fact, it is possible to disagree and be friends until parted by death. Ask Tony.