By the Rev. Scott M. Kershner, University Chaplain
The summer we have just been through has been full of more tragedies and sorrows than anyone cares to count. Many of us are part of identity groups who have found themselves targets of terrible crimes.
In addition, we are in the midst of an election season where polarization and a sense of enmity toward the opposing side are as high as they have ever been.
For a great many Americans, it’s not only that we disagree with the other side, but that we see them as dangerous, un-American, even evil.
Here is a little qualitative study any of us can undertake that will tell you just how far apart we are. If you have a candidate for a president you support, listen to the language the other side uses to describe your candidate. There’s a good chance you will find your candidate described in ways you hardly recognize, that sound to you crazy, paranoid and just plain wrong. The distance between your description of your candidate and the opposing side’s description of the same person is the distance of our estrangement from each other.
It doesn’t have to be this way, of course. There are lots of factors that have brought us to this place, but our work as people dedicated to learning and responsible citizenship is to find connections, seek understanding and affirm that despite any disagreements we may have with our fellow citizens, we are all in this together. The demonization of one side or another distorts this simple fact.
As we begin this year, in this highly charged political season, let us commit ourselves to building human connections across the divides. This, dear reader, is my charge and challenge to you:
Seek out people who disagree with you.
Make understanding your goal.
Look for places of common ground, however small.
Remember: despite our disagreements—they are many and not to be glossed over—what unites us is always bigger than what divides.
Remember: we are each other’s keeper. We are all in this together
Chaplain’s Corner reflects the views of an individual member of the religious field. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the entire university. The content of the Forum page is the responsibility of the editor in chief and the Forum editor