I was raised in a socially conscious, Catholic household, where the speeches and perspectives of both Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X were lauded, school-busing was strongly supported (though us kids went to parochial school), and the programs of the Great Society were unquestioningly accepted almost as salvation in themselves.
Much time has passed. With the benefit of general and honest hindsight, one can make their own assessment as to which approaches to societal injustice and inequality were enlightened, and which (however well intentioned) were not.
The thing that most stands out for me, among all the values expressly stated around the dinner table, was the unspoken, yet strongly implied sensibility that there was a kind of continuum running from Conservative to Liberal, and that the further one moved from standing Right to leaning Left, the closer one was moving to God (or true enlightenment).
However, moving on to Graduate School, my incubated presumptions began to crack when I noticed in University Chapel, and my own church, that prayers were not said for President Reagan, as they had regularly been for his predecessor, and on the day Reagan was shot, an intelligent seminary friend, training for ministry, shouted with glee, “Good! Is he dead?!”
Now, of course, moving onward and upward, I have since met many conservatives who also hold a continuum in their hearts, only it is their end that is nearer to the Divine Majesty.
What I have come to believe is this… While we may see a line of gradation between differing perspectives, Left and Right, I now view this line as the base of a triangle, with Our Lord alive at the apex, equidistant, and still, intimately close to us all, smiling down upon His children, and calling us to seek common ground in unity, upholding a robust, reverential respect as equals in our diversity.
Let us remember, in our Democracy, we have opponents, but they are not our enemies. From walking in many camps, meeting a decent number of fine people along the way, I don’t think any of us has cornered the market on creating a fair and just world — and some folks we may initially disregard as misguided, may indeed find the passage of years adding lustre to their once embattled points of view.
Frankly, in this world, there is enough sin to go around.
What we could use is a little more grace, extended to others, and then celebrated in ourselves.