No doubt you have seen footage of a person caught in a riptide and struggling, and the quick formation of a human chain of thirty/forty people linking arms to reach into the ocean to grab the drowning swimmer. There was no time to screen these volunteers for their positions on any issue. No background checks about citizenship status or religious beliefs. No racial stereotyping. There was a desperate need and in those few moments, desperate cooperation and a sweet saving.
One of my great concerns is our ever-increasing polarization. We have become a nation so divided that many families ban political conversations from family gatherings. We fear the conversations and the loss of each other. In Louisville, we are East end and West end and we carry our stereotypes. The governor spoke of his surprise about a chess club in the West end. He is not the only one who trips over stereotypes. He just did it publicly. We speak different languages using the same words but with different meanings.
As a result, we pile up fears, create and deepen divisions and suck on anger like a bitter cough drop that won’t dissolve. We end up in racism and fear of desperate strangers at our borders, and suspicion of each other.
When I think of faith I hear a call to “do justice and love mercy”, to “love my enemies”, “not to judge, practice forgiveness, speak the truth in love…”. I find all that easier in the abstract. Yet, I try to hold onto a vision of a human chain locking arms and reaching out to save the desperate. We must find ways to work together to save people.