Our nation is divided on so many issues these days. Women’s rights, gay rights, conscience rights, rights of the unborn, rights of illegal aliens, civil rights, gun rights, and on and on. In the middle of it all, we heard, in a gospel message at Mass on Monday, January 23, these words of Jesus Christ: “And if a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.” (Mk 3:24-25). We find the same message elsewhere in Sacred Scripture. So, all of this division has me worried. I have a few thoughts today on how to cope so that this democracy can come through still standing.
It is not necessarily a bad thing to let one’s partisan position be known. For example, in December, 1773, to protest British rule, taxation without representation, etc., colonial activists boarded a ship in the Boston harbor and threw 45 tons of tea overboard in what came to be known as the Boston Tea Party. Today, that much tea would be worth about $1,000,000. Ultimately, the colonists won independence from Great Britain and our nation was born. I think you would agree that that was a good thing.
This week, we have crowds of people participating in marches in Washington, D.C., one in support of women’s rights and one in support of the right to life of the pre-born. It is the right of American citizens to organize in this way to protest our government’s decisions on these matters. Also, we have just come through an election cycle that suddenly switched us from a government led by a liberal politician to one led by a conservative businessman. Citizens on both sides of this partisan divide are concerned for our future, since the conservative businessman has such a divisive manner about him. The fact is that this man did get legitimately elected, despite what some are saying about the process. The American people have spoken.
My thoughts today are about what we need to do now in order for our democracy to thrive again. In the midst of the protests, we need to accept it. All of it happened according to our constitutional process. It is a time to protest, yes, but it is also a time to accept and move on. I’ve noticed that media sources continue to try to get us riled up. I get Facebook posts from organizations such as “Occupy Democrats” and “Conservative Nation” publishing stories that are undignified and sometimes patently false. I can think of only one purpose in these actions – to get our citizens riled up and divided. I can’t help but think that this is the kind of discord that Christ was speaking of when he made his statements against division. If that is true, then we have a democracy that will not stand, that has no future.
In 2008 and 2012, I was on the losing side in the election. It was disheartening to be sure, but each time, I was buoyed up by the fact that another election would be held in four years, and if history is any indication, my side would bounce back. And it has, admittedly with a man that scares me, but it has bounced back just like it did for the liberals in 2008 after eight years of conservative rule. This thing goes in cycles. Conservative principles are not always the answer. Liberal principles are not always the answer. But what IS always the answer is acceptance and dignity. All of us want our nation to continue standing. Let us take that to heart.