A childhood friend "friend requested" me on Facebook just a few days ago. I knew her growing up. She's married, and has children. She was always funny and kind. But after perusing her page I decided not to accept her friend request. You see, she has a Planned Parenthood ribbon on her page. And she's got a few rainbows on certain posts. She was "with her" during the election too.
Now, it used to be that we could all look past those things and still speak to each other. Political views were ancillary. But that's not the case anymore. It's not that I would start an argument with her but I'm not going to monitor everything I write on Facebook so as not to offend others with my views. And offend I would. In today's culture I'm offensive just for being a white Catholic conservative male.
It used to be the talking heads on television argued over issues and we listened but that wasn't us. It was a sideshow to real life. But now it's like we're all talking heads. We all have our platforms and opine daily. It used to be that politics was something that happened down in D.C. but government and its long bureaucratic arm pervades into every corner of our lives making it difficult to ignore. So many of the questions today used to be bedrock principles of reality such as life, marriage, gender, and speech. And it seems that very often we can't help but offend just by believing what we do. Politicians, the media, and the judiciary are now reaching into our lives and squeezing. And when we say "ow" we're criticized.
Now, most people I know are too afraid to bring up anything even closely related to politics because it's sure to start a rage fest of name calling. So I only "friend" people who I "know" online and who agree with me, at least about most things. I've seen it too many times that people who I know, respect, and like in the real world are suddenly angry when they learn I'm conservative, or worse yet, a Catholic who actually believes all that stuff.
I fear that many consider those whom they're opposed to politically as "<" or less than human. And being "less than" is a dangerous thing to be. Ask the unborn. Ask the florist Baronelle Stutzman. When I interviewed her for my book "Faith Under Fire: Dramatic Stories of Christian Courage" she was so kind, loving, and patient; far from the way the media portrayed her. But the media views their caricature of her as fair game because she surrendered her right to human decency when she refused to take part in a same-sex marriage ceremony. To them, Baronelle Stutzman is < human; she is an obstacle to social progress.
There are two different worlds in America now and we don't even speak the same language anymore. We call it a "baby" and they call it a "blob of tissue." We call them "boys and girls" while they push for "zi and hir." What we say is free speech, they call "hate speech." We believe two wildly different things about marriage. We believe that people should be free to live out their faith while they say "tolerance" demands conformity. When two sides of debate can't even speak to each other anymore, each feel like they're not being heard. Voices get raised. And then sometimes, things get worse.
I recently heard about a professor at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia (my alma mater) who was recorded in a forum telling students “you do not have to open your heart” to white Trump voters who makes more than $50,000. “Those people I am not sympathetic to, and I do not believe that you have to open your heart to them,” the professor told students. “If you are a person of color in this room, if you are a woman in this room, you do not have to open your heart to them.”
This is a professor at a Catholic university telling students that despite Christ's admonition to love one's neighbors, you don't have to if they disagree with you politically. He seems to be saying that those who oppose his political views are unworthy of human compassion, empathy, or love. That is the language of cruelty. It leads to violence. It leads to starving people. It leads to genocide. In the 1930's, Nazis classified Jews as "Untermensch" or subhuman. They called them pigs and rats. In more recent times, Hutus labeled Tutsis cockroaches. Is that where we're headed? Already Christians are a punchline or a target in popular culture.
I think in some ways the Trump administration is at least slowing down the political victories of the left but it seems to be only making their rage crescendo. Many on the left truly hate him. And they hate those who supported him.
I don't think there's many people out there who believe our country can last long like this. Some are even saying this is akin to a Second Civil War. The moorings of our country have been torn from under us by those who think that all came before them is unsuitable to modern life or perhaps even evil. Our founding fathers were slave owners, Shakespeare was a white male European and therefore oppressive, and the Church is only the Church of the Inquisition and the persecutors of Galileo and nothing more. Only they, the untainted, are fit to rule over the "less thans."
In an age where some are quick to classify others as < human, we must remember that Jesus told us "whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." I believe that the only thing that can save this country is a mass conversion; a return to bedrock principles of the faith. We are hurtling towards something terrible. Either brace for impact or fall to your knees and pray.