Friday, April 20, 2012

"Can't we all just get along?"

Call me crazy, but  when Rodney King lamented those words, I think that was one of the most profound statements ever uttered.    The profundity lies not in the circumstances in which he made that now famous statement, but in the simplicity of the truth of it.  In fact, even the tone he had when he asked that question strikes a nerve.

"Can't we all just get along?"  What makes that so difficult?  

"Can't we all just get along?"  Can't we all just accept each other's differences and not consider it our personal mission to change others to match ourselves?

"Can't we all just get along?"  Can we be disagreed with and not become disagreeable?

"Can't we all just get along?"  Is it complete compromise to not demand that someone else submit to my point of view?  If I don't compromise my point of view, but rather treat respectfully someone who doesn't share that view, am I wrong?  

"Can't we all just get along?"  Is it possible for me to allow someone their point of view, their convictions, their passions without trying to evangelize them to my views, convictions and passions?

"Can't we all just get along?"  Does every opposing view have to be a threat to me?

This has been something that has been simmering inside of me for a while now.  It seems sometimes that we just thrive on disagreement.  The current political season seems to be a catalyst for contention.  And what's interesting is that as believers on all different sides of the political spectrum, we often claim God's blessing on our battle with each other.  There are Democrats, Republicans, Independents, etc who love the same God I do and yet take radically different stands on issues.  

And it's not just politics.  Among Christian churches, it feels so often like we're more drawn to the things that divide us than the fundamental truth that unites us - God loves us and sacrificed Himself for us.  NONE of us deserve God's love, but (Oh Thank you Jesus!!!!)  It's a gift.  Now, of course, as members of the same family (God's) we express ourselves differently.  Do I really consider your differences in how you serve our God as an offense against our Father or against myself?  And if it's an offense against God, is it MY job to set you straight or does God retain that for himself?  And if it's an offense against me, can I put my own fragile feelings aside to preserve our relationship?  "Can't we all just get along?"

I thought that maybe this was just an issue for the Christian community until I read a blog post by a Muslim blogger, Hijab Revival.  Seyma has a fashion blog in which she demonstrates how her clothing styles reflect her religious beliefs on modesty.  This lovely woman is covered from head to toe and looks gorgeous doing it!  Who could find fault with that?  Apparently some have.  Seyma expressed her frustration with an apparent climate of criticism in her community ("It's so easy to point fingers at one another and forget ourselves in nasty dialogue that it soon becomes OK to give Islamic advice in a demeaning manner")  stating, "I know of so many non-hijabi sisters who are the perfect model of modesty and have the kindest manners and then I know hijabi's who are so rude, arrogant and crude that they would turn anyone interested in Islam right off. "

When I read that, I thought, "I hear ya!  Amen!"  No, a follower of Islam I'm not.  But, I've experienced the same sort of microscopic inspection of my spirituality by my brothers and sisters in Christ and sometimes a much stronger climate of love from nonbelievers - much like Seyma describes.  

And so I keep coming back to those words, "Can't we all just get along?"  Let's face it, we're called to love before we're called to fight.  Paul clearly said that we could have every gift, incredible knowledge, or even martyr ourselves, but if we don't have love, then it's all for nothing.  Faith, hope and love abide and he's crystal clear on the fact that the greatest of these is love.  Jesus even said, when questioned about the greatest commandment of the law (He was asked by the Pharisees, fellow Jews), He was not confused.  

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Again, I'm not talking about compromising your principles.  I'm just saying let's not demand others compromise theirs.  I want to err on the side of love and acceptance.  When it comes to politics, I'll vote my conscience and then leave it in God's hands.  I'm not going to war with those same people whom God loved enough to die for.  When it comes to moral issues, again, our teaching is pretty clear.  We need to take the log out of our own eye before we go searching for the splinter in our brother's eye.  
Yes, Rodney, we CAN all get along.  Now I just hope we will....

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