Uniting an Angry America

Sunday night President Obama laid out his plans for defeating terrorism, again.   In his closing statements, however, he said one thing that bears repeating:

Let’s not forget that freedom is more powerful than fear; that we have always met challenges — whether war or depression, natural disasters or terrorist attacks — by coming together around our common ideals as one nation, as one people. So long as we stay true to that tradition, I have no doubt America will prevail.

An America united in the cause of liberty is our most essential weapon against terrorism.

Unfortunately, it is a weapon we currently don’t have. The American people are divided and polarized. Everyone is angry these days.

A quick perusal of liberal and conservative websites highlights this war with words. If you read the comments, the vitriol gets absolutely vile. In many ways, our ‘civil’ discourse resembles trench warfare: both sides keep lobbing verbal hand grenades, but everyone remains firmly stuck in place.

In the wake of the shooting at a Colorado Planned Parenthood facility on November 27, 2015, the left took shots at the right suggesting that ‘hateful rhetoric’ from anti-abortion proponents inspired the shooter.

When Dr. Ben Carson suggested we take a broader view of the problem, he took his own heap of hateful rhetoric from the pro-life folks because he didn’t vehemently defend their innocence. As he said, it comes from both sides.

In multiple interviews, Dr. Carson encouraged us to let our anger spur us on to discover just solutions to our anger-inducing problems. He told John Dickerson on Face the Nation (11/29/15):

There is no question that hateful rhetoric, no matter which side it comes from, right or left, is something that is detrimental to our society.

This has been a big problem. Our strength in this country has traditionally been in our unity. And we are allowing all kinds of circumstances to divide us and make us hateful toward each other. And the rhetoric is extremely immature, divisive, and is not helpful.

When you have outside forces, global Islamic radical jihadists who want to destroy us, why would we be doing that to ourselves? We at some point have got to become more mature. No question the hateful rhetoric exacerbates the situation, and we should be doing all we can to engage an intelligent, civil discussion about our differences.

That’s how we solve problems. We don’t ever solve them with hateful rhetoric.

Dr. Carson’s comments echo some really good, if ancient, advice. The apostle Paul wrote: “Be angry but do not sin.” (Ephesians 4:26 NLT)

Don’t let your anger lead you to do the wrong thing, like hate, lie, slander, cheat, steal or murder. Hatred and violence are not solutions; they are anger channelled in the wrong direction.

It is time for America to channel its anger into positive solutions. To defeat our enemies and to spur America into a prosperous future, we need leaders who will change the tone of our public discourse from hateful to helpful.

If we start listening to one another, we might discover that what one side hears as hateful, the other side feels is justified and not meant to be hateful at all. There is no overcoming this impasse until we talk to each other. Dr. Carson is the only candidate encouraging us to become engaged in empathetic, rational, mature discussions about the issues that face us.

If you want to stay angry and continue with gridlock, keep posting hateful comments and vote for Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Trump. They are masters at demonization and polarization, just like our current president.

If, however, you are truly interested in finding solutions to those things that make you angry, solutions that will unite us as a country, stop throwing barbs and start listening. Look for common ground.

And when the time comes, vote for Ben Carson. He is the citizen statesman we need to unite America again.

We have lived in an increasingly divided nation for so long, it will be hard for many to comprehend that there is a better way. The path Dr. Carson places before us is simple but not easy. It will be painful. It will require each of us to truly listen to others, to do the hard work of reclaiming our shared values and to learn to live with our differences in peace. With that kind of leadership, the hate we feel rising against “the other” can turn to empathy, then to tolerance, and perhaps even to love.

Starting today, we should follow Jesus’ advice:

Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.

And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, “Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,” when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-5 NLT)

It’s time for us to take the logs of anger and hate out of our eyes and work together to defeat America’s enemies and solve our problems. Watch Dr. Carson. By his words and actions, he models this for us every day.