This article chronicles the details of one tumultuous week in American history: the week in which Lyndon Johnson announced he would not run for re-election in the '68 election and Martin Luther King was assassinated. Read the entirety of the article, because it sets our current political environment in context.
We often consider our times to be divided along partisan lines, maybe the most divided we've ever been. Certainly, we see deadlock in politics on every level of government. We see waste, empty rhetoric, grandstanding, opportunism, short-sightedness, and threats to our liberties.
Nineteen sixty-eight was much worse than 2012 in terms of political, social, and racial division. Read the article to get a glimpse of that division, and the threats that were posed to the United States then. I wasn't born until a year later, but it wasn't that long ago, and many of you I am sure remember those times very well.
In our contemporary political environment, we can make a choice about how we are going to behave ourselves. We can adopt a warfare mentality and draw lines in the sand and consider our political opponents to be the enemy. Or, we can compromise our values and our convictions, give in, surrender to our political opponents for the sake of just getting along.
Are those the only two options? Need we bifurcate on the issue of civility? I think not. I think it is possible to maintain your convictions and not be divisive at the same time.
As a conservative evangelical Christian, I refuse to budge on my principles. I will not give in one inch on my conviction regarding social, economic, national, and international political issues. When it comes to theological issues, I am equally committed to the inerrancy of Scripture, salvation by grace through faith, the full deity and humanity of Jesus Christ, and that the gospel is to be preached to every person in every nation. Of course, I could be wrong about a great many things. I must be open to that. And I feel equally strongly about the Golden Rule, about letting the other person finish his sentence, about fair play, and respecting the person even if I disagree strongly with the convictions he holds. On certain issues, it is possible to give a little, so that you can get a little. Compromise isn't always possible or desirable. But more often than not, it is possible, and when compromising with our political opponents can solve certain political, economic, and social problems, we ought to do it.
Maybe I'm just naïve. Maybe these things aren't possible. Apart from the power of God and appeals to Him for aid, maybe that's true. Still, in late 1963, nobody could have imagined the depth of the division and discord that was just around the corner. Also, Martin Luther King could never have gotten the civil rights movement off the ground without the goodwill and support of thinking, ethically minded whites. We in 2012 have the benefit of hindsight to see what came to pass in the late 1960s. We also have the responsibility to ourselves and to our children to take to heart the example set for us in the 60s. What will we do with the examples of history?
I hope we don't just turn on the video game and ignore them.