I know...I know....it's football season, so this may be a sore subject for some. But I am not really talking about football today (I think I just lost some of my readers; sorry!). During church this morning, our priest was talking about how we tend to forget, sometimes, that we are all on the same team. Yes, we may root for different sports teams, we may vote for different political parties, we may believe in different religions (or none at all), but ultimately, I believe we are all on the same team. I hope it doesn't sound too Pollyanna of me, but I totally buy into the notion that I can love every single one of my family members and all of my dearest of friends, without reservation, even if we don't hold the exact same political, climate, vaccine, or immigration views. Why? Because we are ultimately all on the same side.
Let me start with an example. I came to a conclusion when the internet first became a big "thing" (I'm typically late to the party, so I won't say what year this was) that our Higher Power (God, Abba Father, Adonai, El-Shaddai, Allah, whatever you choose to call Him) was like the worldwide web, and our particular choice in religion was like the internet provider we chose to use. Our "internet provider/religion/spiritual path" has certain aspects that mesh most with our own beliefs and values. But that doesn't take away anything from others who believe differently than we do. We are all likely getting out to the worldwide web of our Higher Power in our own way, and we don't have to try to convince someone else to get there in our way. Yes, I thought I was pretty evolved for coming up with that analogy, but you can poke holes in it all you want.
Today, Father Brian said something that really hit home with me. He was talking about this notion of us being on the same team, and I was thinking, "Then why in the world do we so vehemently feel the need to convince others that they are wrong in their own beliefs?" He went on to give some great, concrete (okay, some are actually abstract) examples. For example, we all want "freedom". But how we get to our concept of freedom tends to differ, and therein lies the rub, right? We feel like our "pathway" to freedom is the right way, and then we feel the need to convince other people of our "right-ness". Let's just take one (of oh-so-many) example. We all want the freedom to make decisions about our own bodies. Some people interpret that as: I have the freedom to not get vaccinated with the COVID vaccination. Other people (or maybe some of the same people) interpret that as: I have the freedom to get an abortion if I was raped or for some other reason. This, I believe, is where the "team mentality" ends and we start putting on our different colors, carrying different pom-poms, or waving different signs or big styrofoam fingers (some are naughty fingers, by the way). But why can't we get back to center, where we all agreed we want freedom? Instead of listening to each other, truly trying to understand each others' reasonings for why THEY believe the way they believe, we get primed and ready to argue our own point. But to what end? Do we truly believe we are going to convince people to believe in OUR way? God (or Allah or Yahweh or nature (as my sweet mother believed)) is the way, the truth, and the light. So why do we have to disagree on how we get there? And why (in my own humble opinion) does it have to become a government-regulated issue?
In another example, all of us love the earth on which we live----yea! We're all on the same team. But, wait! Start talking about how to save the earth, and all of a sudden, we put on our team's colors and get out our styrofoam fingers to wave in each others' faces. "Climate change" either becomes our rallying cry or it becomes bad words...why? Again, I believe it's because we tried to make something NOT political into something political. Can't we go back to agreeing that we all care about the earth? Now go back to the beginning and let's figure out a way to fix it.
Yet another example? All of us want our schools to be safe places for students and staff to be, but try to get those who believe in gun control to agree with those who believe every school staff member should carry a weapon, and boom! out come the separate team colors again.
Finally, all of us can likely agree we want everyone in the world to be safe (Maslow said we have to have our basic needs like food, water, clothing, shelter, rest, etc. before we can ever get to the point that we are self-actualized), but bring up the subject of immigration, and we will likely all get on our soapboxes about illegal people entering our country or about the need to realize that illegal children might need to be protected, regardless of what their parents did or how they got here.
That's why I absolutely loved engaging in the series our church in Tucson did, called, "For God's Sake, Listen!", in which we were tasked to listen to each other in small groups without interruption or even without reaction to each others' views but, instead, we each got one minute to simply state what we believed. It was only after each person in the group had shared their thoughts did we engage in civil discussion about the topic at hand. And, even then, we were tasked to not try to convince someone else that they were wrong but to simply discuss the issue, maybe even bringing up the notion of, "I hadn't thought about that until Barbara brought that up."
I am a huge fan of the author, Jodi Picoult. Her novels are typically based on some ethical dilemma. No matter where you stand on the topic of abortion, reading her book, "A Spark of Light" might encourage you to think outside your own bubble. I have VERY strong views on that subject, but after reading her book, I totally am able to see all sides (I think there are many more than two sides, by the way) of the topic.
I pray deeply for a world in which we can truly be on the same team, and we can agree that we might often disagree, but we can still love and listen to one another.