Finding common ground and healing our country
Did you cheer when Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave a restaurant this past weekend?
I didn’t. The incident left me feeling apprehensive, not vindicated. Because now it just becomes easier for everyone to do that.
Don’t get me wrong — every time I see Sanders on TV I ask aloud how she can sleep at night, given how many lies she has purported. Initially I was cheering when I heard she got “kicked out,” because the restaurant owner and I have the same belief: that our president leads an “inhumane and unethical” administration. (And if you have not yet read the Washington Post article about owner Stephanie Wilkinson, please do so, to get her rationale for her actions.)
But my cheer quickly turned to prickling anxiety. Because even though Wilkinson was polite, and engaged Sanders in dialogue about her reasonings, this whole situation stinks. It smells like the proverbial can of worms that just got opened.
If you think that this incident will cause even one Trump supporter to pause and say, “Hmm, perhaps I should re-examine my stance on the issues,” you’re fooling yourself.
If you think Trump supporters will read about this and feel chagrined, or ashamed of themselves, you haven’t been paying attention.
All this does is make it easier to hate.
People, we have to find common ground. What Trump has done (and continues to do) is make it easy for us to hate. That’s a dangerous place to be. Hatred will not solve anything; hatred makes us further divided and often leads to violence.
We have to rise above it. You’re familiar with the bible verses that tell us to pray for our enemies for those who persecute us, right? That is so hard to do right now.But we need to. About all I can manage right now is this: please give our leaders wisdom.
But how powerful that brief prayer could be, if we all got behind it.
Please give our leaders wisdom.
What this situation with Sarah Huckabee Sanders has done is made it easier for us to draw the battle lines. You may cheer because she got asked to leave, but what will you do when the situation is flipped, and a Trump supporter asks a Trump Opposer to leave? That opens the door to a whole new type of discrimination — don’t go there, those people love Trump! Declare your allegiance at the door, then we’ll decide if we want to serve you or not, because we don’t like “your kind” here.
Recently my husband and I met another couple who were Trump supporters, on a tour group in Europe. They were the nicest couple, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them. They were smart, funny, kindhearted, church-going, educated, and fun to be around. We discovered they were Trump supporters one night when my husband made a joke about Trump. And they didn’t laugh.
Granted, we didn’t discuss immigration, “fake news,” or the meeting with Kim Jong-Un. I would have liked to ask them some questions, however, but I could never figure out the right time to bring it up. Questions like, as a business owner who conducts business with other countries, how do you feel about Trump’s American isolationism? Or, what has your experience been with immigrants, legal or illegal? Or, how do you get your news, do you read a newspaper or watch TV?
I would not ask anything confrontational, like how can you support such a liar? My questions would be my attempt at finding common ground. Learning about the “other side.” Stepping into that scary place in the middle, where I try to understand them, and, hopefully, they seek to understand me.
Only I didn’t do it. The timing never felt right, and I was, I admit, scared to wade into those waters.
So really, I’m preaching that we need to do this — find common ground — but I haven’t yet practiced what I preach. But it is my intention to do so.
Maybe what that couple taught me is the importance of finding common ground. Even if we didn’t discuss “issues,” I can name a bunch of things we have in common. In our conversations we talked about real estate investments, we were all proud of our young adult offspring, we joked about middle age and how our feet hurt, and we shared a joke about sitting on the porch and waving at folks walking by.
I’m not saying, “Trump supporters! They’re just like us!” But maybe we are more alike than we are different, and we have to start moving towards one another.
Maybe we need two prayers: Give our leaders wisdom. Help us find common ground.