Brother Against Brother

We're over it. We're done. We can't even. We weed people out of our life. We move on.

I've noticed that the some of the most shared posts on the Internet today are posts like this one. America has a long history of impressive political bluster and even a Civil War–division in this country is nothing new. Lately, our proclivity to line up against each other seems to be rising toward a fever pitch.

Jesus told us to love our enemies, and to bless those who curse us, but I know Christian families who won't speak to each other because of differences in political beliefs. These fractures are undergirded by certainty in either camp. Both are absolutely convinced that they are correct, and the other camp is wrong.

Here's the thing: you're wrong. I'm absolutely sure of it. But that certainty comes at a cost, as it means that I'm wrong too. We're all building models of a reality that is far more complex and nuanced than our brains can handle. Different models have different advantages.

There are advantages to being religious and nonreligious.
There are advantages to being conservative and liberal.

Every human model of reality comes with trade offs, and none of us are masters of fact, or unbiased, rational agents. We're especially clever primates, highly specialized for tropical environments, with a unique ability to incorporate time into our neurological model of the world. I'm a very clever ape, sure, but I'm still an ape.

No matter how enlightened I (or anyone) may feel, no matter how careful I've considered my position and the alternatives, I have to remember that one of the most powerful human biases is toward tribalism. Our brains crave identifying a tribe we can identify with and outsiders to defend against. It was a very successful strategy for most of our history on Earth, but today tribalism does much more harm than good.

You are here. So is everyone else.

You are here. So is everyone else.

When I'm tempted to identify with some group and look on others with disdain, I find it helpful to remember most people build constructs and ideologies primarily as a means of forming social identity and coping with the fact that we're a species that can contemplate death. We're all trying to work out the grief that bubbles up from the End of The Line. I ask myself: in this moment, how can I be an agent of healing and reconciliation.

Jesus calls me to identify every other person a member of my tribe, and to be willing to offer my life for theirs. I'm called to suffering with the suffering. I'm called to feed His sheep.

Jesus shows me that God loves everyone–even conservatives, liberals, and moderates. The call on my life is to do the same. If Jesus made time for the Samaritan woman at the well, I damn well better make time for the Republican woman at my office.