If you aren’t fed up and frustrated with this election cycle, you might need to read the paper more often. And if you’ve made it this far without encountering heated words on social media or even within your own family, you have been fortunate.
This nation is utterly divided. There’s no longer an aisle dividing two sides. There are people on every side of what seems like a circus ring who feel there’s no solution.
Unfortunately, only the passing of Nov. 8 can cure part of what ails us.
The solution for another part of this division, possibly the root of the problem, is easily within our reach as Catholics. The name of our religion literally means universal.
It’s time Catholics take a stroll around the circus ring; find out what really worries the other ticket-holders. Who are they? Why do they see the issues another way? Where do you share common ground?
What can you learn from each other? If you can’t learn from each other, maybe you can at least regard the other with a merciful heart.
Here’s the thing: Don’t let talking heads tell you; find out for yourself. But be sure to find out the way you would in the parking lot after Mass — with a sense of friendship, openness, compassion and honesty. This is not a sporting event where you play for different teams.
This is your one life, your one community, your one chance to live as Christ called you to live.
The upcoming Life Conference, sponsored by the Archdiocese of Louisville, would be a great place to start. While its name may sound like it’s focused on a handful of issues, the conference organizers are inviting parishioners to unite as Catholics under the spectrum of life issues — from abortion and the death penalty to issues that some people may not even realize fall on the spectrum, such as poverty and human trafficking.
Sal Della Bella, one of the organizers of the conference, told reporter Jessica Able recently, “We’re hoping for relationship-building and hope that people from different areas of the archdiocese and with different passions come together and see how it (the range of life issues) all fits together.”
Another organizer, Ed Harpring, noted, “If one person is working with St. Vincent de Paul’s soup kitchen or another person participates in a 40 Days for Life event at an abortion clinic, they are both affirming life.”
Finding unity will require more than shaking hands with someone who ladles soup for a hungry person or prays outside an abortion clinic, but if you attend the conference with an intent to learn something and build relationships, you’ve made a start.
The conference will certainly offer something for every person concerned about a just society. Deacon Lucio Caruso, another conference leader, told Able that the church often highlights “the bookend issues” of abortion on one end and euthanasia and the death penalty on the other end.
“But it also speaks to the books of issues in between, like hunger, racism, immigration, refugees, living wage, prison reform, global warming,” he said. “The issues are interrelated with one another, and a disregard for the value of life at either bookend or in between will have serious consequences.”
The conference organizers have a promising vision, but its success rests on who is willing to attend, learn and open their hearts to the movement of the Spirit during this gathering. There are still a few days to register for the conference.
If you can’t make it to the conference, find another way to learn from someone with a different perspective. Make it a personal mission to end the polarization and find common ground with your neighbor.