The United States has always been a nation that embraces diversity and unique differences; when it comes to ideals. When it actually comes to putting virtues such as compassion, patience, mercy and love into action, the nation’s history tells a different tale. While most Americans may readily say they are compassionate people; the stark truth is we are not.
Certainly, when there is a national disaster or we are bombarded with images of suffering, such as the Haiti earthquake, the Japan earthquake or the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami; Americans are at their best. They are moved with acts of compassion and donate to charitable organizations such as the Red Cross. They put their money to work and back up pledges with dollars, cents and time. But for the most part; when it comes to the daily, American way of life; acts of compassion, mercy and love are rare.
This nation is polarized in what might be the most clearly drawn lines in the nation’s history. Similar to the “North” and the “South” mindset of the civil war era, the country is now divided by “Right” and “Left” and it appears that never the twain shall meet. The outright hatred between the “Right” and the “Left” is mind boggling and it is practically an astonishment that acts of outright violence on a nationwide scale haven’t occurred between the two.
It seems that in America, everyone loves to have their own, personal freedom to believe and behave as they wish; yet they do not move with compassion, mercy and love for those who believe differently.
It is so simple; really. This “democracy” thing; it really is simple. If you have your own personal beliefs, that is fine; but you cannot demand those who disagree with your beliefs to conform to yours. If the “Right” and the “Left,” the Christian and the atheist, the gay and the straight, could grasp a hold of this; America might begin to journey towards peace, love and wholeness.
Does that sound sappy?
Maybe it does; but it’s the truth.
Let’s look at the abortion movement. There is pro-choice and there is pro-life. If someone is pro-choice, they do not have to have an abortion. They can hold on to their beliefs, they can live their lives the way they choose; but they should not have the right to make others conform to their will. They should also not turn around and walk in “hatred” towards those who believe differently.
The same is true of the those who are pro-choice. If someone is pro-choice, that is their right. They do not hold the value of life in the same regard as those who are pro-life. Many pro-choice people believe that a woman’s right to choose what happens to her body supersedes the rights of an unborn baby, or those of a man who may have violated her causing her to become pregnant. But is it really impossible for both sides to walk in compassion? Can someone who is pro-choice, not have compassion and understanding for the cause of the pro-life person? Can the pro-life person not walk in compassion, mercy and understanding and just accept the fact that they have no authority over someone else?
If they did, then America is no longer a democracy and there is no freedom. Maybe there would be less abortions if there were more resources for women who were pregnant? However, history tells us that abortion is an ancient practice. It isn’t going away; despite it’s legal status.
How about homosexuality?
If someone does not believe in being homosexual or thinks it’s a sin; then that is fine. They don’t have to be homosexual. But that does not give them the right to behave in a manner towards those who are homosexual or lesbian that violates their civil rights or even causes so much emotional damage that a person is driven to severe psychiatric distress and/or even suicide. History shows us that there is a wave of anti-gay violence in this country that should make every American feel shame. Every human being in this country who is a U.S. citizen, is worthy of a decent life. It does not matter if their personal beliefs differ from yours. Compassion, mercy and love say to walk in harmony with one another, regardless of our personal beliefs.
Why is it so difficult for people to walk in love and so easy to surrender to hatred?
How can a person claim to be walking in the love of God, stand up for the Bible and say “homosexuality is sin” then show no compassion, mercy or love for a homosexual. How can anyone say they represent “God” while shouting slurs and protests at funerals or urging people to commit suicide?
You either walk in compassion, mercy and love or you don’t.
But this is not a one-way road to condemnation.
How many in the LGBT community hear someone is a “Christian” and immediately believes they are “homophobic?” Many put up defensive walls so quickly, there is no room for anyone to tear them down, regardless of how much love they have in their heart.
Americans are so busy defending their positions, drawing lines in the sand, and pointing blood-stained, guilty fingers at each other; that no one can move forward. Respect, love, tolerance, compassion and mercy in a democratic society has to begin with the realization that we all have the right to believe what our spirits say is correct, and learn the art of disagreeing respectfully.
The nation is bent on ensuring “those who believe like they do” get in power, remain in power and create laws that coincide with their point of view. Each time this happens, the lines become clearer and the divisions more profound.
Instead of party lines, right and left, why not let compassion be the rule?
Let’s try to be more compassionate in our daily lives; regardless of our personal faiths and beliefs.
The greatest act of humanity is to put others’ needs above your own; regardless of what you can get in return. We need to remember that beyond “right” and “left” “Democrat” or “Republican” “Christian, Muslim or Atheist,” we are Americans and more than that; we are humans.
America could use a bit more humanity, a bit more compassion, mercy and love. America has a tremendous amount of problems that may never be repaired; but everyone can practice more compassion, mercy and love in their daily lives. That is one step we all can take to move forward together, and bring democracy back to this country again.