I don’t much like the way politics has gone lately.
However I look at it, politics seems to find ways to divide us from our neighbours, find differences with other people, and bring out anger and hate and fear.
I’m one of those people who like and respect many, many people on all sides of the political spectrum. What I see – this division process that is currently going on – troubles me and makes me worry for our futures.
For all of us.
A house divided against itself cannot stand. That famous Lincoln quote is more true now than ever.
More than ever, we humans are facing massive changes and difficulties, and we need to be able to put our differences aside and work together. We need to stop seeing only on the small things that divide us, and instead focus on the huge, far more important things that unite us all.
There are so many things that we all want, no matter who we are, or where we come from, or who we might vote for.
An end to poverty.
No more war.
No more horrible terror attacks.
No more children living with preventable disease.
These are just a few.
We all want to live in countries where a basic, honest wage will support a family.
We all want to live in a world where no-one is too poor to send their child to school, or too poor to see a doctor.
None of us want our neighbours to be hungry or cold, or to suffer.
All of us want to keep our children safe from harm. All of us hope that our children will grow up health and happy and well, and that we too will be happy and whole.
At the moment, in the United States for example, the Republican party is focused on issues of national security while the Democrats are focusing more on issues of wealth and equality.
I believe we can care about both: I believe we can want our children to be safe, while wanting people on low wages to be paid decently.
There is a middle ground in all this hatred, this bickering, this pettiness.
It begins with being kind.
With caring for one another.
With not judging.
With loving our neighbours, no matter their religion, their sexuality, or their wealth.
These are not new principles, nor are they found only in a minority religion or worldview. They’re common to all people, all faiths, all belief systems – including atheists and agnostics.
So let’s start practising them.
If we are to build strong, healthy societies, we need to care for those who are weakest as well as for ourselves. We need to learn to be kind again. We need to learn to think of others as well as ourselves. We need to respect that others have rights and opinions too, even though we may not agree with them.
Above all, we need to start by listening.
So yes, it’s time we had political discussions. But we need to begin those discussions not with “I’m a Democrat” or “I’m a Republican” or “I’m a Green” or “I’m a National” or “I vote for Labour”, but with open ears, open minds, and a little bit of tolerance and understanding for our fellow humans on this very small earth.