6 minute read | Culture, Politics, America
America Needs Humanity, Not Unity
By Caleb Stanton
January 12, 2021
“If violence is a disease, a call for unity is morphine: You might feel better, but it can’t heal you. Take too much and it actually hastens the dying process.”
There is a lie – a very American lie – that life is simpler when everything is binary:
Conservative or Liberal.
Patriot or Traitor.
Fascist or Antifa.
Thin Blue Line or Anti-Police.
Lion or Sheep.
White or Black.
Gay or Straight.
Man or Woman.
And most of all: GOOD or EVIL.
Something dreadful happens when we ignore the vibrancy of nuanced truth, and thoughtlessly place entire people groups into one bucket or another: We lose our humanity. When we choose binary ideals, we strip human souls of the beautiful intricacies God wove into their being. We reduce unique personalities to “other” or “them”… and all too often, “evil.” And the moment we decide WE are the good ones and THEY are evil, we justify bloodshed. This is how we arrived at January 6, 2021.
America, we’ve lost our humanity… Or maybe we never really had it to begin with. And what have we gained from this all-or-nothing mentality? Is life simple right now?
To be clear, this is not a call for unity. If violence is a disease, a call for “unity” is morphine: You might feel better, but it can’t heal you. Take too much and it actually hastens the dying process.
No, this is a call to something much more powerful: Radically embracing the humanity of the very people we oppose the most – the very people we would NEVER unite with. For me, I will never stand united with those who form their worldview on the whims of a “Q-drop.” I will never stand united with privileged people who pretend they are victims. And I will never stand united with those who seek to undermine the will of the American people.
But you know what I CAN do? I can acknowledge that I probably have some glaring holes in my worldview too. I can accept that I am flawed, fallible, and kind of a dick sometimes. I can do my best to dialogue with respect. I can avoid sweeping characterizations and grade school name calling. I can shut the hell up and listen – because this is no weak-minded passive-aggressive civility – it is sincerely trying to hear the heart of another… Perhaps most importantly, I can honor the reality that the individuals I find the most appalling have as much capacity for love as I do – because many of them are ready and willing to die for the people and ideas they hold dear.
I can do all those things while simultaneously standing against that which my conscience finds repulsive. I can argue with confidence. I can confront a bully. I can fight for justice, dismantle broken systems and affect lasting change. America, we can be strong AND humanize the other – all at once – because whether we like it or not, LIFE IS NOT BINARY. Period.
Nuance is a gift, and shades of gray hold indelible beauty. Embracing the marvelous tension of complex truth is America’s best path through the darkness of this hour.
If we are going to make it to the other side of this mess, we must start by acknowledging the sanctity of those we disagree with. This doesn’t mean unity. It doesn’t mean passivity. It simply means we hold tightly to the inalienable reality that not a single one of us is wholly lion or sheep. Not a single one of us is wholly good or evil. We’re all a mixture of both… and that – in it’s own strange way – is beautiful. It’s powerful. It’s… American.