I recently said that these are the most divisive times that I’ve lived through.
Someone disagreed and suggested 1968 – a year that featured Democratic Conventions riots, the Vietnam War and the assassinations of Dr. King and Bobby Kennedy. It ended with the election of Richard Nixon.
Yes, that was a rough time but these times feel different to me. People are not talking to one another. They’re screaming at each other, engaging in civil disorder and threatening the daily lives of good people. There’s little critical thinking going on. Everything is a knee-jerk reaction. The country is divided along political lines and there seems to very little room for even wanting to work with each other.
The appointment of Cabinet members, usually a slam dunk, is being held up by interminable delays. There’s immediate opposition to the Supreme Court nominee before he even answers a question. Partisan politics rule the day – which is exactly what got Trump elected. People were sick and tired of political gridlock. They wanted action on important issues.
Take a look at the letters in our own Readers’ Forum. Some that are not getting printed are even more problematic. Just this week, I received one that claimed we were pro-Trump and the writer was quite displeased. On the same day, there was one that said we’re against Trump because of church leaders’ stands on the immigration executive order.
Last weekend we seemed to experience a respite for Super Bowl Sunday. There was a great football game played in Houston – even the fantastic halftime entertainment was able to avoid partisan pitfalls – and for a while on Sunday afternoon, the nation seemed to come together to simply watch a game.
Even Pope Francis issued a statement about the power of sports to overcome divisions and bring people together.
“Great sporting events like today’s Super Bowl are highly symbolic, showing that it is possible to build a culture of encounter and a world of peace,” said the Holy Father. “By participating in sport, we are able to go beyond our own self-interest – and in a healthy way – we learn to sacrifice, to grow in fidelity and respect the rules.
“May this year’s Super Bowl be a sign of peace, friendship and solidarity to the world.”
And it was for a brief moment. But it wasn’t long before I began hearing how many fans were rooting against the Patriots because of President Trump’s friendship with the team’s owner, coach and star player. On radio call-in shows, fans were irate because the president’s closeness to the team was interfering with their own feelings for their team. One caller said it was difficult to root for Tom Brady because he was a friend of the president. What lunacy!
The bitter feelings in today’s debate borders on sedition and threatens serious disorder and destruction to the ideals of America. Surely, there must be a better way! Who will step forward and show us that way?