How often in the last decade or more have partisanship, division and calls for unity been inked on the commentary pages of this and other newspapers? Too many, the authors could safely wager.
Or maybe not enough.
Extreme partisanship gave birth to the attack on the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6. And each of us who have sown seeds of division in our homes, in our offices, on social media and any other place people gather have played a role.
We’re not talking about disagreements here. Disagreements are unavoidable, not to mention healthy and important. It’s how we approach them and solve them that matters.
Do we call one another names?
Do we ridicule one another’s position?
Do we dismiss the dignity of the other person?
Do we delight in defeating the other side?
These behaviors have infected the presidency. They are often on display on cable news shows. They’re all over social media — commonly causing friends to “block” one another for 30 days.
And these behaviors are at the heart of the problem.
If we are to succeed in securing a stronger democracy for our future, one where all of us feel represented, we have to seek unity by understanding one another.
And that requires respectful dialogue from every party, at every level — in our schools, in our homes, on our news shows, in the statehouses, in Congress and in the White House.
We cannot afford to tolerate self righteous name-calling and jokes at the expense of the “other side.”
It’s time to reorient ourselves as citizens and expect more from ourselves and our government.
Our elected officials are too often treated more like elite athletes than public servants. And the American public is reduced to something akin to sports fans rooting for their favorite team (political party) rather than citizens advocating for important policy.
The Catholic Church has a long history of asking its members to be active in the “public square.” As this year’s session of the Kentucky General Assembly gets underway, it’s a good time to put your citizenship into practice. When was the last time you wrote an original note to an elected official or called Kentucky’s legislative message line? The number is: 1-800-372-7181
Let’s not let our elected officials do their own bidding. Let’s practice good and faithful citizenship — with maturity and civility — in this new year and set an example for others.
The next time we find ourselves with an opportunity to sow division, let’s set an example of respectful dialogue.