I've been reminded so often of the 70's Dave Mason song called "We Just Disagree". In an already polarized culture, most of us are tempted to think in terms of good guys and bad guys. Another terrorist attack -- that's clearly a bad guy. Which, of course, makes us the good guys. My favorite candidate is the good guy, which of course makes the other candidate the bad guy. Just yesterday I was talking with some friends who were grappling with the whole situation in Turkey, where certain elements in the military attempted to overthrow the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. How are we distant onlookers supposed to process events like this? Again, we often default to the question of who are the good guys and who are the bad guys?
If only life were that simple. Understand, I am of course in no way condoning or excusing terrorist attacks just because "we're all human." But life is sticky. And more importantly, we are all capable of the very best and the very worst of human nature. Take the Syrian war, for example. Now put yourself in the place of the US administration and Departments of State and Defense and try to imagine choosing sides. Do you support the rebels fighting against the tyrant, only to discover that they too are beheading children?
But back to our polarized culture. It turns out we're not the only ones. Brexit has not caused but revealed a deeply divided Britain, as the coup attempt in Turkey revealed the same. The us against them mentality only serves to perpetuate this polarization, and, as usual, the voices in the middle are often the faintest.
For me, it comes down to the fact that I am responsible for me, and the way I view those unlike me. And if I do a little appropriate self-examination, I quickly realize all the evil in the world is not out there somewhere.
I often think of G.K. Chesterton's response to the London Times survey question of "What is wrong with the world":
"Dear London Times,
In many cases, it's not so much I'm right and you're wrong, but
"There ain't no good guy
There ain't no bad guy
There's only you and me and
We just disagree."
(lyrics by Dave Mason)