After a night of drinking in 1991, Rodney King led the police on a high-speed chase through Los Angeles. While arresting him, four officers beat him with batons to subdue him, and the beating was video-taped by a citizen on his balcony. The video caused a national furor. In 1992, when the officers were tried – and not convicted – L.A. and other cities were consumed by riots for many days. During the riot, Mr. King went on TV to try to calm things down. He famously asked, “I just want to say – you know – can we all get along? Can we, can we get along?” I thought of that question this week when I heard of the politically motivated shooting in D.C. I wondered how have we gotten this far off track? How can party affiliation alone mark someone as a target of assassination? (Maybe you can write this incident off as “just one crazy guy,” but that doesn’t explain the violence and hate everywhere against people who simply have a different political agenda than someone else. Even crazy people used to know it was in bad taste to hold up a decapitated head of the President.) So, back to my question. Can we just get along? I’m afraid my answer is “No, we can’t.”
“Getting along” requires some common values or at least the ability to communicate with each other in some fashion. In 2017, we seem to have lost that ability. Isaiah 5:20 says, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” We can’t get along because we don’t speak the same language – the same moral language that is. Political discourse is obviously impossible when a “policy disagreement” makes you a “hater.” The nut job shooter in DC this week had a serious obsession with tax policy, and felt we don’t tax rich people enough. I can understand that position, but not how you get from there to “anyone who doesn’t vote for my position deserves to die.”
I may not think the political discourse mess is fixable, but I know Christians have lived through worse times. Paul said our assignment is simply this: “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior…” -1 Timothy 2:1-3. Peter put it this way in 2 Peter 3:11,12: “You ought to conduct yourselves in holiness and godliness as you anticipate and hasten the coming of the day of God…” That “coming day” will be when we can truly all get along.