The Common Good

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I met Bill O'Reilly once. He came to Baghdad to visit troops. I said, "Say Bill, if you and Al Franken can figure out how to get along we'd have something to offer the Sunni and Shi'a."

"Chaplain," he replied, "he'd have to be converted first."

Sunni and Shi'a feel the same. When the other side sees things their way, presto!  Peace on Earth.

The premise won't ever be tried. There's always disagreement -- in our world, our country, our households, ourselves.  Peace is illusive, even when I'm alone.

Agreement has overcome monstrous dilemmas. We've walked on the moon. We've won wars, and made friends with those with those we've engaged in mortal combat.


Even so, disagreement seems preferred -- winning our point the primary goal. Recently, a Senator said a claim he'd made "was not intended to be a factual statement." Through the strained sieve of a politician, lying is deemed acceptable to win your point. I fear we've elected the wrong folks. "Hooray for our side," works in sophomoric fraternities but has no value for governing a diverse people.

Theologian Frederick Buechner said if he could only preach two words they'd be, "Pay Attention." Even casual observation shows we can't afford to wait until others perceive things the way we do.

Some have much to gain by our divisions. Fear fills coffers. Humiliating evidence aside, we look at ourselves as "righteous" and the "other" as evil, but, if we stand in our perceived righteousness the world loses.

Every nation is here. Our differences are black and white and every shade in between. Yet, our needs are alike -- clean air and water, pure food, nice homes and good schools. This is a start -- we need the same things. When we work together for the common good our differences become less important.  We're more apt to ask, "How can we fix things so you feel alright?" Then we would have something to offer the Sunni and Shi'a. In fact, the world may be more enriched by examples of how to get along than by invasions.

With a Perspective, I'm Steve Torgerson.