For several years I’ve been fascinated by the lives of famous warriors turned peacemakers, men like Nelson Mandela, Quanah Parker, and Smedley Butler. I mention these men because I hope their lives can become a road map for our nation in learning how to stop fighting one another. If Mandela could let go of revenge against the brutal regime who imprisoned him, if Parker could make peace with the cattle ranchers who stole the land of his ancestors, and if Butler could see the error of war making in his own life, then we can let go of the petty differences that are currently dividing our society.
This division has culminated in an impeachment hearing where half the nation believes that the president of the United States is the epitome of the corruption plaguing our country, and the other half believes that he is the only one who can “drain the swamp.” While I find myself firmly in the camp that views him as the epitome of that corruption, the majority of my fellow conservatives seem to think he is helping to end it, so how do we know who is right? Instead of battling it out through Facebook memes I think a better question is, how did we get here in the first place? And to help answer that question three recent movies provide an excellent starting point, The Big Short, Vice, and The Laundromat.
Whether you agree or not with the way these movies portray the real-life events they are supposed to be re-enacting, there is one thing we should all be able to agree on. They vividly portray the rampant corruption that does exist within the financial, political, and military systems of our nation, and all three help us to see that the corruption is so massive and deeply ingrained in our culture that almost all Americans feel hopeless about the possibility of it changing without a catastrophic collapse. I think this feeling of overwhelming corruption and hopelessness is primarily fueling the political and relational divide in our culture.
No one likes to feel hopeless, so in order to give ourselves a false sense of control over the chaos, we’ve started to blame our political rivals and tell ourselves that all we have to do is make sure our party wins the next election. We’ve convinced ourselves of this despite the fact that the two major political parties in the US have taken turns controlling the executive and legislative branches of the government over the past hundred years and the corruption has only continued to escalate. The bad news is there are no easy answers or shortcuts to bring about genuine change.
There is no silver bullet. Sanders being elected or Trump being re-elected won’t change things. Your political party being in total control of the government for the next twenty years won’t change things. The only thing that will ensure deep and lasting change is a true and lasting commitment from the American people to turn away from division and toward reconciliation through the sacred art of peacemaking. If you commit to this path it is likely that many will curse you and you may even begin to feel cursed, but I pray that you remember the words of our savior, “blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
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