Speak to the Signature

In a recent Washington Post op-ed, a freelance journalist wrote that she would not (as was her custom) rent out parts of her Washington home to Inauguration participants this year. She explained that she just couldn’t bring the hate of Trump supporters into her neighborhood.

Of course, had Secretary Clinton won, others would have refused hospitality to her celebrants.

To live by the cold calculus of political punishment suggests serious personality deficits. How do mature adults refuse to engage and flow with people (like potential customers!) just because they hold different views? Good grief, a case can be made that anyone is an “extremist” or “hater.” But serious and productive adults don’t tolerate that silliness.

The Polarization Business

In their book, Common Ground, Bob Beckel and Cal Thomas contend that very strong interests are heavily invested in polarization. They write, “ . . . conflict sells, and if harmony broke out, newspaper sales would drop and ratings, especially on cable TV, would decline sharply.”[1]

We live in an age when powerful forces (media institutions, the political industry, social media marketers, etc.) need for you and me to hate each other; polarization is big business. But why do we buy? Why do we so passively allow them to attach their icy electrodes to our spines?

We would never tolerate polarization in our own bodies. Think about it; we all navigate the external world through our five senses. Our brain integrates the feedback we receive through the concert of our eyes, ears, tongue, nose, and fingers.

Wouldn’t it seem weird and dysfunctional to move through life according to one’s sense of smell? Yet that is what we do when we decide to live according to political purity.

A Better Way

When I wrote for a conservative journal several years ago, my editor once asked me to become more combative against “liberals.” And I heard myself say something I did not know until that moment: “God’s signature is written across every human heart; I’d rather speak to that signature.” And, to my great surprise, he said, “We sure need someone here who can do that.”

As a human, a creator, a collaborator, and a child of God, I would rather try to view people through God’s eyes than according to the schemes of cunning economic manipulations.

Over the years I’ve learned that those who are my opposites are never as bad or difficult as I imagine. In most cases, I simply (and unintentionally) fell into blind obedience to hidden and devious agendas. In doing so, I fulfilled an ancient warning:

Strangers devour his strength,

Yet he does not know it….[2]

Living in full engagement of others – regardless of how they vote or what they think, feel, or believe – is a far better way of life.

Higher Ground

In 2009, during a trip through Jordan, I met a Palestinian Muslim. Ibrahim and I spent many hours together in restaurants, busses, and walking together throughout the country. For the first few days we spoke to each other from deep inside our own caves. But then, like Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird, we each slowly stepped into the light.

One night Ibrahim told me about his son who had lived with a chronic illness all his life. Suddenly we were just two dads standing in the desert. Then he told me about the night Allah came to his house and healed his son. My eyes burned as we walked back and forth across our common real estate. We found a heart connection within the familial chords of care, that nugget of eternity that God places in everyone’s heart, and the too-good-to-be-true joy of Him coming to our homes.

In that moment, we were each lifted beyond our religious, political, ethnic, or national identities. We saw that unmistakable signature of God inscribed on the other’s heart. Suddenly we stood together on higher ground

Let me tell you another secret. Everyone whom you may regard as sinister, immoral, unjust, or racist also carries God’s signature. So, you have a choice. You can submit to the condemnations shouted by the investors in polarization. Or you can dig down below the rubble of injury, rejection, and loss to find His Signature. It is there, in everybody.

Then, if you speak to the signature you might call new life into existence, and you may create a path to higher ground.

[1] Cal Thomas and Bob Beckel, Common Ground (William Morrow; New York, NY; 2007) p. 69 & 81.

[2] Hosea 7:9, taken from the New American Standard Bible®,Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)

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Written by on Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Filed Under: Contemplation,Culture,God,Polarization,Politics

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10 Responses to “Speak to the Signature”

  1. Darrell A. Harris says:

    I, too, am a believer in these truths and try to live this way every day. It is so much more hopeful and peaceable.

    Do you know Thomas Friedman’s newest book, Thank You For Being Late? Its content can be very helpful in this dialog.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/22/books/review/thomas-friedman-thank-you-for-being-late.html?_r=0

    Thanks for this entry Ed. Very constructive stuff!

  2. Joe Harpole says:

    Thanks Ed. I will speak to Father’s signature today and bring life to those around me.

    We are the peace makers. There are plenty of dividers, but ours is a greater heritage than Wall Street or the “likes” we can get. This is like water in the desert.

    A higher plane than I have found,
    Lord plant my feet on higher ground.

    Happy Holidays!

  3. Fletch Wiley says:

    What a good word Ed! This is a great season to connect with others who disagree with us, to bring the love of God into the conversation.

    Blessings.

  4. Thanks, Ed. We all need to contemplate those words. I can just envision you walking and talking with the Ibrahim. Not unlike Charlie Sheen in his pilgrimage in The Way. A path of discovery.
    Continue to keep us on the right path, Ed.
    Wishing you and Joanne the joy of the Christmas Season.

  5. Bob Paulus says:

    GOOD word on remembering that our Lord has a vastly different view of things than we do. His eternal perspective, which should be our goal, includes many people and things that we would not include. Thankful for friends like Ed who call us up and remind us to respond to the Eternal One, not to the loud voices in the temporal realm.

  6. Pam O'Shields says:

    Thank you, Ed for such amazing insight. I will shamelessly steal “God’s signature” as I speak with others and will actively seek to see that signature in all I meet.

  7. Dewey Dethrow says:

    Thanks Ed! Oh boy, did that need to be said! And you have a beautiful way of touching on topics and saying the right things at the right time. Thanks for your contributions to civility and for putting us on the right track.

  8. Gary Henley says:

    Brilliant, Ed! This will light up many hearts this season!

  9. Jack Outhier says:

    Excellent! I shared this on my Facebook page and it has been shared more from there. Outstanding responses to it also.

  10. David Gies says:

    Thank you Ed. Wisdom to go forward.

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