An Election Season Practice.

photo courtesy of Tulane PR

Vice Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, Donna Brazile, recently said something interesting about Karl Rove.

I can feel you tensing up…Oh no Erin what are you about to say? Will I have to quit reading your blog?

It’s ok. Relax.

In a column in Oprah Magazine Brazile said this:

When I feel myself getting steamed up over an issue, it really does help to remember the rich humanity of my so-called opponents – even one as formidable as former Bush adviser Karl Rove. Competing against him was blood sport – and yet he and I have a great rapport. We discovered early on that we share a love of history. Karl doesn’t just know dates and facts; he can tell you what people were eating, drinking and thinking in 1896….He’s proof that it’s possible to disagree with someone on just about everything and still respect them.

Brazile reminds herself to see Rove, her opponent, as a human with whom she might have something in common. She might not always feel like doing that, which is why it’s a practice.

Is it really ok to hate people with different opinions, as the current religious and political climate in America would suggest? Are we supposed to isolate ourselves from people with whom we disagree? That’s certainly easier, but does it make anybody safer or more righteous? Timothy Keller author and founder of the fabulous Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan thinks not.

His New York Times Bestseller The Reason for God is a capacious and thoughtful treatment of the typical objections to Christian faith like, “a good God wouldn’t allow suffering” and “why is the church responsible for so much injustice.” In it, he says, the more we separate ourselves from those unlike us, the easier it is to see them as other and vilify them, which makes violence toward them seem defensible.

This is not me in bakasana. Photo by DL Chang.

I’m guilty, especially during elections. So I’m practicing, just like I practice bakasana on my yoga mat. Both are hard.

I told someone yesterday, I am not putting a campaign sticker on my truck this year, not because I’m tempted to bicker, but because I hold a minority opinion in my area; and people seem so angry, I’m afraid of what it could mean for my vehicle. Maybe I’m overreacting, but last election a friend was angrily confronted in a parking lot for this exact thing. There was no debate or exchange of ideas, a stranger just walked up and called him an idiot.

Sorry, but Jesus would not have that. Check Matthew 5:22 if you’re unsure. This is what he wants instead:

You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoys its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor. James 3:18 The Message.

That’s not a platitude or at least it shouldn’t be. It’s a discipline and election season is a great time to practice, no matter what side we’re on.

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