“Do you want the blue pill or the red pill?”
This is the penultimate question that Morpheus asks Neo in the movie “The Matrix”. This very same question was asked of our country two weeks ago during our national election. Do you want the blue pill (Democrat) or the red pill (Republican)? Our country chose the red pill with the election of Donald Trump as our next president. Not since our Civil War (which was anything but civil) have we been this divided as a country. I write this the day before Thanksgiving and have actually heard of families who have changed their Thanksgiving dinner plans because another family member voted for the “wrong” candidate. How will we unify this divided country? I’d like to give my personal opinion on how we can move toward unity as a society and a nation. It begins with my plea to you and all of America. Please don’t swallow either pill!
Where am I coming from?
Let me be honest up front. When it comes to politics, I am a dyed-in-the-wool independent and centrist. I cannot and will not label myself as either left or right. I see value (and harm) from the platforms and viewpoints of both sides. Here are a few beliefs which that show my centrist tendencies. First of all, I am a Christian – which means that I firmly believe in the truth of the Bible. This means that I believe in the sanctity of life (from the womb to the grave). So for me, abortion is a wrong choice. I also believe that the Bible clearly teaches that same-sex marriage is against God’s standard. However, we are to show grace and love to those who are different from us – no matter their lifestyles or life choices. I also believe that climate change is not a hoax. And, as a Christian, I believe that we are charged by God to do all we can to tend to and protect the environment. The Bible also talks about taking in the foreigners who seek shelter and protection. This means that I believe that we are biblically called to do all we can to take in and care for modern day refugees. I believe that our country should be fiscally responsible. However, we also have an obligation to help those who are hurting, poor, and disenfranchised. So, I am neither blue or red!
What am I asking you to do?
You may not agree with the above beliefs and values and that is fine. As someone once said, “If we were exactly alike, then one of us is not needed.” I am not trying to convince you to believe like me. However, I am trying to convince to do four things.
- Realize that there are no simple answers.
We naturally tend to seek a simple answer to a problem. However, when the problem has multiple layers of complexity, the answer is usually complex as well. Our world is no longer simple and is continually becoming more convoluted. We are globally connected on many levels (not just economically). What happens in a country on the other side of the world impacts us whether we like it or not. When someone presents a simple answer to an issue, realize that it will probably not solve the issue.
- Refuse to listen to the spin-doctors.
There is no such thing as unbiased media in our world today. Everyone comes with an agenda! So what should we do to sort it all out? Watch, listen to, and read from a variety of news sources – even those from the “other” side. Check the facts through sites like snopes.com, factcheck.org, or politifact.com. Also, do not believe what is tweeted or posted on FaceBook. Opinion is often presented as fact (remember this exercise from Jr. High). Finally, refuse to get caught up in the anger. Many political pundits have one major goal in mind – to make their audience angry. When we are angry it is hard to think rationally.
- Dialogue with those on the “other” side.
It is easy to relate to, be around, and only talk to those who agree with us. We like people like us. However, when it comes to the complicated issues involved in politics and culture, we need to be in open dialogue with those who are different. We need to take the time and grace to listen to them. We need to hear their heart, without trying to change their viewpoint. I know this is hard to do, but the first two steps to resolving conflict is to treat the other persons with dignity and respect and then dialogue about our differences.
- Build bridges not walls.
In the computer world, binary code uses only two binary digits (0 and 1) for all text and processing. When we use that concept by thinking only in partisan blue or red, we begin to see one side as automatically being right and one as automatically being wrong. It then becomes hard to look at any of the other side’s ideas as having any merit. This leads to building walls, not bridges. Until we can begin to build bridges of understanding and cooperation, we will remain being defined as only being red or blue. We will never decrease the width of our division.
As I said earlier, I am a unwavering centrist and I know that we are a dying breed. But I am not asking you join me as a centrist. I am asking you… No, I am pleading with you, to join me in not totally swallowing either the red or blue pill.