UnWoke Series: Which Side are You On?

Photo Credit: Pool photo by Carlos Barria

Photo Credit: Pool photo by Carlos Barria


“This is a humanitarian crisis. A crisis of the heart, and crisis of the soul.”

-President Donald Trump

The quote above came from President Trump’s address to the nation 1/8/19. He is 100% correct. We are facing a crisis of heart and soul.

The part that is interesting to me is that politics, and political discussions, have entered the territory of heart and soul. Things of the heart and soul are about passion, belief, equality. Things at this level are not partisan.

This territory includes us all.

That the political is claiming this space is, I think, why we feel so divided. And it’s also, in some ways, what makes the president’s speech 1/8 a pretty brilliant thing.

Nearly every meeting or gathering I’ve been at in the past year.five (church services, rock concerts, lectures) has mentioned a nation divided. Yet most of us blame the other side. We may post. We may rant. But rarely do we actually discuss what is being said and what it means and who it means it for and how it makes things better for or worse for us all. Essentially: we bypass what is at the heart and soul of the issue.

The quote about a ‘humanitarian crisis’, a crisis of ‘heart and soul’ was uttered in the larger context of a speech about immigration. Specifically about the southern border of the United States, more specifically people attempting to cross the border there. These people are mostly from Mexico and Central American and are attempting to come here for the hope of a better life.

I think one thing we can all agree on is that if they make it here, they will have a better life. No doubt few Americans would trade our freedoms, policies, lifestyle or laws for any country in our continent that lies south of us. Where we differ is on what should be done about the people trying to get here for that better life.

So the central thing is the policy that surrounds immigration.

Yet, we do not look at or discuss policy. There is not presentation of pros and cons of things that may or may not work. There are no examples of a successful vetting process, speedy granting or denial of passage. Too often, we discuss nothing. We blame the other side, pointing flaws in Its logic and conception, rather than doing something to fix the problem.

The president, in addition to being correct on heart and soul being in crisis, gave a nearly perfect speech. It was (probably) the most presidential he’s looked. It was the closest he’s stayed to the message, while also being himself. It included the problem as he saw it, people to put blame on, as well as a call to action.

The speech was brilliant in this sense:

If you support the president, and agree with his politics and policies, he laid out every pertinent buzzword and piece of conservative politics. Or, if you believe he (and politicians) are appointed by God, on the side of the moral, and should be blindly supported, you heard a speech that had ‘enemies’ and laid out solid reasons to keep ‘criminals’ out of our country.

If, however, you oppose the current president, you heard someone that is intolerant, racist, stupid, and the worst president ever. You think our country had a role to play in creating the problems these people are fleeing, that we’re a country of immigrants, and that building a wall is a terrible answer to the problem.

But if you’re republican you think: at least a wall is something. An action. But if you’re a democrat, you respond: it’s the wrong action, we need to do something different…

…and round and round it goes…

It’s easy to make a case for your side. It’s also really easy to talk to only people that agree with you, see only your side, and therefore agree with what you think.

Then there is no middle ground. No progress. There is no room for compromise, no dialogue or discourse, there is only divide. We have conflict rather than unity, government shutdowns rather than progress. This divide has taken hold. It’s impacted families, workplaces, schools, and churches. It’s affected everything.

When conflict goes unresolved, bitterness takes root. Wars are started. Evil is allowed to take hold. Unresolved conflict makes enemies out of fellow humans. In other words, it creates a crisis of the heart and soul.

Most often, the person who thinks differently than you do has valid reasons and good points for what they think; or at the very least, their opinions are based upon a narrative that is real and true to them.

So listen. Engage. Discuss. Then we can make progress.

Progress is what this series is about. I know that I personally have a lot of room to grow. I know that listening to people that think differently than I do has been a good thing. I know that my experience is not the same as everyone else’s experience, and to force my own beliefs on other people doesn’t do a whole lot of good. I know some things. I don’t know others. That’s what this series is about. About reaching across the aisle. When we listen, engage, and discuss, we mend problems of heart and soul.