I reflect on the political swamp Facebook has become – and my own occasional culpability. It has just hit me: we are so often attacking our own friends. Calling people we love “stupid” and “traitor” because their background and life experiences have led them to different political convictions than our own. Considering some of the things we post or “like,” it’s tantamount to walking up to longtime friends at a church potluck, poking a finger in their face, and shouting: “You support a lying, dysfunctional egomaniac! How can you hate America the way you do!”
I’ve felt barbs and tension rise between myself and longtime missionary pals, kids I went to school with in Bangkok. We teamed up to pass out handbills and sing songs at Branch Sabbath School; we were baptized in the same pool. Now we are close to unfriending one another (and in one case I reluctantly did) because our posts and the manufactured hit pieces we re-share have offended and wounded people we love.
There’s a classic line in the old Revolutionary War movie, “The Patriot,” where British General Cornwallis (the great Tom Wilkinson) laments to an aide: “These [rebels] are our countrymen! After the war we have to get along again.”
In Lincoln’s first inaugural address, he penned some lines we should all embrace during these last eight days of a tough campaign. “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.” His bitter political rival, William Seward – now chosen as Lincoln’s Secretary of State – helped him craft the speech.