Social harmony requires acceptance of the fact that people can have differing viewpoints on more than one issue – or on every issue – and still be friendly towards one another. As Part One in this series outlined, for Christians it means that Jesus mandated that we love everyone – even those who don’t agree with us – and we are also instructed not to judge other people. God alone is the final judge in the end – but that doesn’t mean other people’s viewpoints have to become our own. It just means that we can live in harmony with one another within a pluralistic and diverse multi-cultural and mult-ethnic society, and not be at odds with one another. Civil debate is always allowed – but in the end we have to be able to shake hands and have lunch with each other if we are to build a harmonious world – and that is precisely the goal that I want to work toward.
From this point on in this series, I’ll cover issues that are very contentions within our society today; and make an attempt to offer a middle way through love – keeping in mind that as a Christian there are limits on what I can accept and call my own. People with other beliefs may or may not be constrained by their own personal or religious views; which is why there will never be an absolute consensus on every issue – but all of us should be able to take a, “giant step” towards the middle ground of love.
I’ve traveled to and lived in many different western countries that all practiced a variation of democracy – and loved them all as well as their people; and the degree of liberal or conservative approach in these countries always varies by degree – even from one administration to the next. Often the goals and desired outcomes of each side are similar but their individual approaches can be – and often are – worlds apart. All of this is a matter of philosophy and should be open for honest and civil debate (often concerning the level of taxation and services a government should provide to its citizens) but in the end these issues are all in the middle ground where love can find a compromise and a workable solution.
What is pretty clear today, is that without managing the growing national deficit we’ll all suffer together as a nation. Finger pointing doesn’t help anyone, as both parties for years have spent well more than what it took in from taxes. A very encouraging sign though is the momentum that the Buffett-Gates emphasis on charitable giving is generating from those who do have the means to make a difference in our society today – which is truly a blessing to the nation and the world – that we should all be thankful for.
The 1st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States (ratified on December 15, 1791) states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Our founding fathers blessed our nation with these and other protections that serve to protect everyone’s right to, “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness;” and today we live in an absolutely wonderful and beautiful world full of amazing opportunities that we need to all work together to preserve, protect, defend and improve on – for the sake of our children and all of the generations to come.
Democracy is never an easy process, and in order to protect everyone’s rights, we need to respect the fact that their rights are also protected by the Constitution – which forces certain compromises within society because we can’t always have things our own way – especially when it affects other people. It can only help the process if everyone remains civil and respectful of everyone else’s viewpoint – and treat them as we also would like to be treated – even if it has to start with us. As we look at individual issues for the common ground where we can all coexist in a harmonious and peaceful pluralistic society, it will be love in the end that allows us to find that common ground.
Just as the Constitution of the United States allows for the free expression and worship of my faith – Roman Catholicism – I must also agree to the protection of all other faiths as well. We live in a free and open democracy where all faiths have the right to worship in the manner of their choosing; and in protecting their rights to worship I am protecting my own rights as well – as well as exercising my right of free speech in discussing the subject here.
This also means I support the rights of people who choose to believe in no faith at all; and I understand that when a specific religion is displayed in a public institution or setting that there are concerns with the promotion of that religion – so I accept that all religions need to be represented or none at all. Religion and faith have an important role and place in our democracy, and the litmus test to represent all faiths or none at all ensures that the government does not establish or favor a single religion – while erring on the side of extreme caution – to avoid even the appearance of favoring one religion over another.
In this process, I can only help change people’s hearts to work toward a middle ground of love if I have a peaceful and loving heart of my own; which is a never-ending process and one that I have to nurture within my own heart every day. After all, we are all only human; but if we try to work together to find a workable solution for society in the years ahead, we will discover that everything is possible because – Love Changes Everything.