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Well, If You Ask Me…..

Last week, we acknowledged that our nation has been in existence for 243 years.  Among the nations of the world and cultures that have existed for many millennia, that makes us so young that we appear to be still in our childhood as nations go. In truth, too often we are acting more like a child than a 243-year-old republic.

America is not divided.  We are fractured.  Almost every topic can evoke great opposition. It would be most difficult to bring up a topic that does not have a counterview.  If one speaks of politics, there are multiple and instant opinions.  The same is true with religion, the direction of the nation, the President, sexuality, gambling, drinking, sports, etc.  If the truth were known, the divisions have always been present “where two or more are gathered together”.  It is just that divergent views are more readily exacerbated today because of so much “instant” news through broadcast and social media.  And, sometimes by bloggers…. (not me, but those other people!).

Social media has transformed the country.  Every person now has instant access to any event.  Immediately, many become “commentators” of what they just read and speak to the event with great passion.  Readers see the various responses, and some feel the need to add additional insights of “great?” wisdom….

In a place and time “far, far away and long, long ago”, there was a proverb of wisdom that was believed, taught, and practiced…. Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.

The most gifted folks in the limelight that we admire have critics that can take one phrase, lift it from a sentence, and make a federal case out of their counter interpretation.  Antagonism, vitriolic speech, and outright contempt are very much alive and well. Those who are determined to speak “whether they have something to say or not” fuel fires that left alone might otherwise just be a spark that would die.

Abraham Lincoln won the presidency of a divided country. There were four major candidates in 1860, and Lincoln only narrowly received his electoral majority. Among his harshest critics was Edwin Stanton of Ohio who opposed Lincoln’s election, calling him among other things the “original gorilla.” Yet Lincoln asked Stanton to serve as Secretary of War, recognizing his organizational skills were greatly needed for the war effort. When Lincoln was assassinated, Stanton said, “There lies the most perfect ruler of men the world has ever seen.”

We do not have to strike back at everyone who says or does something with which we disagree. It may be temporarily satisfying, but in the end, it leads to bitterness and often an escalating cycle of revenge and retaliatory actions. Love does not insist on getting even—in fact it glories in peace. Paul wrote that love, “does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Corinthians 13:5). Many people find themselves living stress-filled lives because they do not allow love to do its work of peace.  (Copied).