Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

A Soul-Searching Time as a Nation

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

A Soul-Searching Time as a Nation

Article excerpt

These past weeks, a number of things have happened in the United States that signal to me we are entering a critical soul-searching time as a nation.

We experienced the administration's hardened position regarding those who are entering our country, even for those seeking asylum. For a time, it included separating children from their parents and placing them in detention centers without any plan for reuniting them with their families.

We heard President Donald Trump insult our closest neighbors and strong allies--Canada and Mexico--even speaking of Mexicans as "infesting" our country. We watched as the Trump separated himself from our Western allies and sought closer relationships with the dictators of Russia and North Korea.

Who the United States has been, both nationally and internationally, is being turned upside down. Although some of us may not totally agree with how things have been and desire change, the actions of Trump are focused on appealing to his political base, a minority of the people in the U.S. The good of the whole is being ignored.

There is a heartbreaking silence from members of Congress--both Democrats and Republicans. Party politics and the next election are paramount, regardless if in the process the basic values for which America has stood are violated.

We don't all agree about our future. The divisions we experience, the cultural war waging in our country, did not happen overnight. The cultural, social, economic and political shifts over these past 50-60 years have been experienced by us in very different ways.

For some, having policies that support the free exchange of goods and services across national borders is part of trying to create a global community. For others, it is the taking away of jobs that devastates one's local community.

For some, acceptance of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer community is a natural extension of one's belief in human rights. For others, it signaled another stripping away of the moral order.

For some, addressing racism and sexism in all of its insidious forms is necessary to who we are as a country. For others, it signals political correctness and bias against white men.

For some, the immigration issue is about obeying the law and securing our border, keeping us safe. For others, it is a humanitarian issue calling forth compassion and open arms for those who are fleeing violence and persecution.

These divisions are deepened when the rhetoric stokes the fires of anger and fear among us. This is complicated by the way that truth and actual facts are being manipulated so as to sideline rational debate, appeal to emotions, use negative stereotypes, and erode standards of mutual respect.

These techniques often lead people to be deceived from seeing what is in their own best interest, and in a world of social media and 24/7 news cycles they can cement worldviews and create unswerving loyalty to one's tribe or political base. …

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