Last night President Obama urged us "to pause for a moment and make sure that we're talking with each other in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds."
Can we in the P.C. (USA) do that? Can we move beyond the "us vs. them" battles, beyond polarizing and divisive rhetoric?
I am convinced that we can and that we will.
Here's one example that gives me the confidence to make that assertion:
Back in September, I wrote about a day-long gathering held in New York City that brought together persons within the denomination who are involved with Middle East issues and who represent a wide disparity of views. There is perhaps no other issue on which there has been often emotional and heated rhetoric than our denomination's stance regarding Israel and Palestine.
The informal, non-official meeting was convened by Ron Shive, who chaired the Middle East Study Committee and who is now a member of the Middle East Monitoring Team, and Katherine Henderson, President of Auburn Seminary.
The group met again last week. Out of that meeting came a covenant, a covenant that fits perfectly with President Obama's plea. The members of the group all covenanted to do the following:
1. If we know that our constituency is taking an action that will push buttons in the constituency of others around the table, we will inform Ron and Katherine (and through them the rest of the group) of the action we have taken.
2. If we don't understand the actions taken by the constituency of one of our colleagues, or we feel surprised by that action, we will ask that person for clarification before responding to our own constituency about their concerns about the action.
3. Insofar as possible, and whether or not we agree with one another, we will interpret the actions of one another's constituencies as accurately as possible, respecting the integrity of each person around the table and assuming the best about his or her convictions.
Simple steps, really. But simple steps can have such profound consequences.