A Country Divided

Social Justice * by Michelle Garrett

Michelle Garrett is a Roberts Wesleyan College graduate with a B.A. in Communication and former editor-in-chief of The Beacon. She is an artist, writer, advocate, feminist, and dedicated follower of Christ.

I believe what is easiest right now is for each of us to choose our side … scream that everyone else is wrong and refuse to listen to any opposition. But if we all choose this path, I also believe that we are signing up for a very ugly and bloody future.

As history casts its eyes back on the absurdity of the year 2020, it will be remembered as the year of COVID. I will never forget the shock that came last March when our whole world changed overnight. One day everything was normal and the idea of a school shutting down mid-semester, of graduations and proms being cancelled, of not being able to even sit down and eat at a restaurant – was absolutely absurd. Yet practically overnight, all those things we took for granted became luxuries we couldn’t have.

I believe that this sudden change in society brought about a new attitude in Americans. It was as though everyone finally had the realization that everything we felt was never-changing – the policies, the injustices, the powers at be – could be moved after all.

It was in the past year that many people found their voice and became louder than any of us had ever heard before. Black Lives Matter, the second impeachment trial, a stock market heist, a storm of the capital, and much more. On the day it was announced Biden was to be president, I myself was in Washington DC and it was an inspiring example of a city making themselves heard. The day was filled from morning till midnight with happy honking, yelling, flag waving, literal banging of pots and pans, and spontaneous rallies.

In our country there are so many emotions and thoughts going on both in ourselves and in our culture about what we each believe is right and what is wrong. In the year of 2020 these passions we’ve held inside ourselves have been magnified from a year free of worldly distraction. And without being in person, we’ve moved to the platform of social media where we go to battle in the comments section. I believe what is easiest right now is for each of us to choose our side, stick with it, indulge the cancellation culture, scream that everyone else is wrong and refuse to listen to any opposition.

(Photo by Samuel Corum)

But if we all choose this path, I also believe that we are signing up for a very ugly and bloody future. Our world changes more each day. And I hope it is for the good, that these are growing pains. But standing still with apathy or fighting simply to see who can scream the loudest, is not going to challenge us, grow us, or bring love and grace upon the world around us. And I for one, want to be someone who is making the world better, not helping tear it apart.

If you agree with me, then I propose a challenge to you. I believe that when we come up against someone who has a different set of beliefs, we should simply listen to what they have to say and ask questions. Let me say that again. Listen to whoever it is you are talking with, take a place of humility, and ask questions to try and understand their way of thinking. And please do not get me wrong – I am for peaceful protests and finding ways to be heard as a united people. I am speaking of interpersonal relationships. Of not pushing away someone for disagreeing with you, but inviting them to a conversation.

Listen to whoever it is you are talking with, take a place of humility, and ask questions to try and understand their way of thinking.

And it is okay. You do not have to agree with this person or have the desire to change your own beliefs. But I think there is grace to be had in understanding one another. These are the steps each of us can choose to take if we want a future of unity and peace. If we understand one another and hear each other’s hearts, we will be able to feel seen, heard, and in turn advocate for each other and hopefully change the world for the better.