Unity Doesn’t Mean We Always Agree

I’ve been particularly appalled at the glee of people over the fact that individuals have filed and/or signed petitions to allow their state secede from the United States.

Set aside the fact that the petitions are made through the White House “We The People” website, which has no authority to grant a secession, for a moment.

Photo of Civil War graves in Andersonville National Cemetery, Andersonville, GA; from Wikimedia Commons; taken by Attribution: Bubba73 (talk)

Have they no remembrance of history, of how much the last attempt at secession cost the country? Three million people fought in the Civil War. Hundreds of thousands (600,000+) soldiers died. A large percentage of the male population in their 20s and 30s were wiped out.

You think you want to go there again? Maybe we all had better head to the theater this weekend to watch Lincoln so we are reminded of the cost.

“Between 1861 and 1865, Americans made war on each other and killed each other in great numbers — if only to become the kind of country that could no longer conceive of how that was possible.” (from the website for Ken Burns’ miniseries “The Civil War”)

I find that quote ironic. Is it still true that we ” no longer conceive of how that was possible”? Apparently not.

What’s it about? I know some of these people were disappointed that their candidate, or their party, didn’t win the presidential election. Others are simply disgusted with politics in general. But is that enough to break up the “United” States? Do we believe unity means we all have to agree, that we have to like the same things?

Can’t we be united in pursuing the greater good, the important common goals, even if we don’t all get everything we would like? Can’t we agree to treat others with respect and listen and then, if necessary, agree to disagree, while still working toward solutions that benefit the people of the union?

Compromise has become an ugly word, but I’m not sure why. We teach our kids to share, which is really to compromise. Those toddlers can’t both play with that game at the same moment, so we say things like, “Billy, give your sister a turn.” I am tired of politicians who play king of the mountain (“I want to be on top” or “My party must be on top”) by refusing to work together for a solution to the real problems face by real people. Most of us aren’t anywhere near the mountain. Get over yourselves and get something done.

This idea that “we can’t be united if we don’t all agree” is something I’ve seen played out in churches as well. We aren’t all going to be happy with every decision made by a leader or a board or a committee. Can we set aside our preferences and instead focus on the bigger goal? In the church’s case that goal is to represent Jesus to a world who needs to know him, and that world is made up of people with all sorts of interests and preferences (including political ones). So I may not like that activity or program or music (can you believe the church is still fighting over music?!). Can I set my likes aside to reach even one person who “it” might help? We don’t even have to do “it” all together, but we need to support those who are choosing something other than what we like.

I know it’s Thanksgiving week, and I’m ranting. But I am thankful for my country, the United States of America, and I don’t like to see that threatened, even symbolically. And I’m thankful for the Church, the cap C Church of Jesus Christ, in all its various forms and practices. I don’t want to see either destroyed simply because we can’t all agree to be the same, to like the same things. It’s time to grow up and learn to work together for the common good, in spite of our differences.

Leave a Comment


Have Carol Speak For Your Group

An accomplished and flexible speaker, Carol tailors her topics to fit the theme and timeframes of your meeting, conference, seminar or retreat.