I imagine that whoever you are, whatever faith tradition you practice (or don’t), whatever your race or ethnicity, whatever your socioeconomic background, whatever gender(s) (or none)—you probably agree that there are plenty of things that divide us as a country. I would also like to think that all people from all walks of life would agree that love is better than hate as we navigate this divisive, often treacherous time. Unfortunately, this is not yet our truth.

Rev. Karen Cuffie

One recent example of the eruption of hate in this country was the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade. Some groups of people with differing opinions began very public “dialogues” via social media and in-person protests. Language of hate, name-calling, and judgment raised their ugly heads.

There must be a better way. Can we have civil conversations where people listen to one another without trying to persuade the other to think like them—move to the “other” side, so to speak. Can we have civil conversations where the one talking is given the opportunity to finish their sentence before being interrupted? Can we have civil conversations where all voices are heard, and voices don’t elevate to shouting matches? Yes, of course we can and plenty of people are. But we need to practice this kind of dialogue a lot more.

I’ve learned a lot, just in these last few weeks, by reading and listening to people talk about when life begins, or at what stage an embryo is considered a viable human being. I’ve listened to people talk about why it’s OK for a 10-year-old to give birth to a child conceived from being raped. 

I’ve listened to women speak about who should determine what they do with their bodies, what kind of healthcare they should be getting and the emotional toll it takes to make difficult decisions. It’s not easy for me to hear certain opinions that I disagree with. I do get angry. 

The tension I wrestle with is how to respond when I’m angry. I don’t want to hate or demoralize the other. I’d like to think I am capable of having a civil conversation over such a hot button topic. How about you?

What I do know to be true is that my faith in God and Jesus is what guides my heart and thought. I look to Scripture and reason to form my opinions. That’s tricky because even among Christians, Scripture is interpreted differently. Nothing is easy about this. 

Still, I’d like to get to that place where people from all walks of life would agree that love is the better way when divisions run deep. You might be thinking, “Good luck with that” or “wishful thinking” or “It’ll never happen.” Maybe you’re right, but I continue to hope. That’s what I believe God wants for us.  

Have faith, don’t give up, let go of the hate. It won’t get us anywhere anyway. 

The Reverend Karen Cuffie, Rector, began her ministry at St. John the Divine Episcopal Church in Morgan Hill in 2018. Ordained to the priesthood in 2016, Rev. Cuffie is an active participant in the Interfaith Clergy Alliance of South County. She can be contacted at [email protected].

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