Conflict is not my strong suit. I’m much happier when everyone agrees and works together towards the common good. But real life isn’t like that. Even Disney’s latest princess has been pushed into the real world. And if Giselle can do it, I guess I can too. Although I’m pretty sure I don’t want to be recruiting rats to clean up my house.
I read an e-mail tonight urging folks to vote against Obama, in part because of some things that Muslims for Obama would like to see him do. If Obama wins, I’m pretty sure the group will be disappointed. Presidents don’t make laws, for one. And any legislation would likely run afoul of The First Amendment and stiff opposition from secular humanists and anti-Muslim conservatives. I like the fact that the author of the e-mail had done some research and was urging his readers to vote. But it’s uncomfortable being in disagreement. The e-mail author claimed to be in the silent majority. Based on my inbox, I wouldn’t say his majority is exactly silent, but is it a majority? We won’t know until the national election, I suppose.
And what happens then? If Obama loses the election, or the nomination, what will happen to all the new young voters? I remember in the last election, there was a lot of concern about the Howard Dean block, whether they would remain active after he bowed out. I guess some of them did. But how many of them did not look beyond the differences between their candidate and the one that won, and disengaged from the political process?
That’s a common way of coping with differences of opinion — to disengage. I’ve seen church members leave the congregation, even the small 8 o’clock service, because of differing views. I’ve seen talented employees resign, because they didn’t agree with where things were headed. I’ve seen a diocese leave the Episcopal church, because they didn’t agree with its leadership. I didn’t see it, but my South Carolina history teachers made sure I understood that the South seceded because it didn’t agree with the way the country was being led.
We can’t all take the Lincoln approach, and force the other side to reengage. Ironically perhaps, the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution won’t allow a company to keep someone from leaving. And as for leaving churches when you disagree with the leadership, I have to wonder, are you ever going to find a church where you’re going to agree with everyone about everything?
It’s difficult to stand in the face of disagreement. To continue to engage. To continue to try to find common ground. To read and hear discouraged, divisive, or antagonistic language, without letting those thoughts and opinions creep into your own. To take the long view, when the short term is disappointing and unpleasant.
But we must. Continuing the dialogue and getting things done together, even though we disagree, is the foundation of this great country of ours. Sometimes, it might feel like we’re inviting rats to help us clean up the mess. But when the mess is big enough, and there’s no fairy godmother around, …
Just don’t make me wear the marshmallow dress, okay?