Monday, October 13, 2008
The People I Know
As I listened to our associate minister gather the woes of the world up in his arms yesterday, sharing a passage from my favorite prophet, the Patron Saint of New Jersey, I was struck by the notions that (1) I truly love belonging to a church where Bruce Springsteen can be quoted from the pulpit, and (2) tattered though we are, we're still the Land of Hope and Dreams.
It got me to thinking about how, in my circle of friends at least, the sacred and the secular commingle. The Right and the Left meet in the middle for a handshake and an agreement for a fair match. Did I just get lucky? Because here are The People I Know:
The Conservatives I know love America, want the government to help where they must, and stay out of the way otherwise. They believe more firmly in the common man than the politician. They want their kids to have the best education possible. They are generous with their hard-earned money, and more apt to give a check to the MDA than the NRA. They work hard, and want to provide for their loved ones. They expect the best of others. They pray for peace, and hate the notion of war. They believe in love, not fear; unity, not division.
The Liberals I know love America, want the government to improve our communities, and stay out of the way as much as possible. They believe more in the common man than the politician. They want their kids to have the best education possible. They are more apt to spend their Saturdays helping a neighbor than picketing a power plant. They work hard, and want to provide for their loved ones. They expect the best of others. They pray for peace, and hate the notion of war. They believe in love, not fear; unity, not division.
The People of Faith I know are humble and kind. They don't believe they have all the answers, but trust their Creator, respect those of other faiths, or of no faith at all, and pray that they may be better people, not that others may be better people. They don't want to convert you, but seek to live the kind of life that makes others want to know more about what they believe. They find truth in everything from the Gospels to Garrison Keillor, from Jesus to Jazz. They believe in love, not fear: unity, not division.
The People Who Search that I know are humble and kind. They aren't sure who, if anyone, is driving this little blue marble, but they trust themselves, their loved ones, and the wisdom handed down before us to help navigate them through rough terrain. They respect people who spend their Sunday mornings at the altar as much as they respect those who spend their Sunday mornings at Starbucks, and believe that we all choose a path best suited for our journey. They find truth in everything from the pen of Vonnegut to the assurance of science. They believe in love, not fear; unity, not division.
When I read the news about people calling for the death of one of our presidential candidates, or see the venom spewed between persons of different faiths, in the name of what they believe, I consider myself more than a little blessed. I don't know those people. The People I Know remind me what is best about our nation and our world. We have our moments of anger and confusion, but we see ourselves as on an arms-locked journey together, not in a combative race. We wrestle thoughtfully with our choices and our decisions, and we wish each other the best. We often walk out of step with one another, but we're all trying to get to the same place:
Big wheels roll through fields
Where sunlight streams
Meet me in a land of hope and dreams