What if politicians – on both sides of the aisle – admitted when they were wrong, asked for forgiveness, cared more about democracy and the people than themselves? What if rather than puffing themselves up, making themselves feel important, they listened, truly listened to their constituents, to each other?
Because in the midst of the chaos and noise and bedlam, what I keep hearing is most people claiming a desire to protect our democratic ways, for integrity in our system, for truth and transparency. Both sides. Each accusing the other of undermining and threatening the very things we as Americans hold dear.
What if instead of pointing fingers and flinging accusations we found the common ground, the things we all agree on? As one radio caller who wished to remain anonymous said, he finally talked with his estranged father, focused on the beliefs they shared, rather than their glaring differences, began the oh-so-slow process of rebuilding that relationship.
What if, as in our nation’s history, our leaders put the country, its union, first? Like Lincoln making choices that may have been unpopular at the end of the Civil War, choices still questioned today by some. But his goal was to restore the union, prevent further rupture, which required strength and passion and conviction and the belief that our nation was worth saving. That there was hope.
And what of President Ford pardoning Nixon, a decision fraught with controversy? I once heard a historian say Ford issued the pardon in part so the country could move on, not spend years embroiled in the fallout from Watergate and Nixon’s resignation. Ford chose to move forward with a presidency where he created his own legacy, maybe not free from, but less hindered by the legacy he inherited.
I didn’t live in the time of Lincoln, was a mere toddler in Ford’s day, and I know retrospect makes judgement calls so much easier. So what if now I teach my children to love others well no matter what? Whether they share our beliefs or not? Whether their values are in direct opposition to ours or fall directly in line with them?
The hard part is living out that love in this fallen and fractured world. To not let anger over someone else’s choices mar my ability to see them as a person, an individual. Because, really, that’s all each of these groups we hear about on the news in made up of. People. Individuals.
And that’s who each and every politician is. Someone else’s somebody. An individual with their own values and priorities and, sure, their own agenda, or one they’ve been swept up in in the chaos. But at the core, am I able to see them as a person first? Because isn’t that how I want others to see me?
grace for each moment, one moment at a time