October 19th, 2005

I have a hard time seeing and understanding only one side of an issue, and I usually find this to be more of a challenge than something good. I can listen to both sides of an argument and see the merit of each; the hard part is deciding who is “right.” There are even things I feel very strongly about yet understand the other side, and this is hard for me. Am I incapable of forming my own opinion? Am I weak because I can’t “pick a side?” Should I just accept that I will never be fully accepted by either group?

I work at a place that is very opinionated and, for the most part, fairly liberal. There is an email list called the Underground which is very interesting to be a part of. It’s never been as busy–or as enlightening–as right before the last election, but it carries frequent messages of very strong opinions on “popular” current debatable issues.

I can usually read these opinions–both sides–with a certain amount of emotional detachment. I agree with some and disagree with others. But one thing that is really hard for me to detach from is the topic of how hateful the “religious right” or “those christians” are. Not because I know these people are wrong, but because I can understand why they feel this way.

No one has to look very far to see what they see. There are countless images of Christians holding signs that condemn certain people to hell and copious comments that convey judgment and intolerance. Anyone who doesn’t catch this sort of thing isn’t paying much attention to the world. So much of the world sees Christians as hateful, lacking compassion, judgmental, oblivious, stubborn, unaccepting. This hurts, but can you blame them?

I can’t.

And this is what hurts the most. And I can’t just shrug it off as “well these people are wrong; I’m right; and I don’t care what they think.” Because I see their point. And I recognize that they, too, can appear hateful and judgmental and unwilling to entertain another’s views. And I feel stuck.

“The left mocks the right. The right knows it’s right. Two ugly traits. How far should we go to try to understand each other’s point of view? Maybe the distance grace covered on the cross is a clue.”
–Bono (of U2)

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