Middle Ground

2 min
at 10:43 PM

Do political disagreements really have to be as simple as “I’m right and you’re wrong?” Steve Torgerson begs to differ.

Colin Kaepernick and I share the experience of being baptized and confirmed in the Lutheran Church, where good people taught us to fight injustice. We don’t share a career in the military where I served with good people who stand when the National Anthem is played.

The news might convince us opposing views are dishonest, stupid or evil, which makes defeating the opposition paramount. I’m convinced however, that among the decent, our divide is mostly a matter of worldview: The standards are different but a strong sense of justice prevails.

When the flag passes, I honor sacrifices. Our country won independence, The Union freed slaves, and Nazis were defeated under the Stars and Stripes. For me, it is a symbol our highest aspirations and the debt I owe to those who made a nation “by and for the people” possible, but my boycott of the NFL doesn’t keep me from seeing the injustice Colin is protesting.

Our Union seems fragile. Big things divide us. When we draw battle lines over the core values of others we enlist only those on our side. The flag is an example but there are others. Abortion has been legal for decades, yet, it is a battle that will never be won in some good hearts. Family planning, stopping unwanted pregnancy and neglected kids the majority will support. We should pivot the conversation there. My conservative friends don’t object to gays having the same rights as husbands and wives but they’re fearful when someone is forced to abandon their Biblical beliefs to take part. My love for favorite teachers and friends enlists my support for gay causes: Here is where battles are won. Women’s health needs are a no-brainer until someone insists nuns break their vows.

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We’ll never see things the same but it doesn’t take Einstein to see repeatedly fighting core values and expecting better results is insanity. Bad people win elections by convincing voters their high virtues are under attack.

The danger of valuing only one’s own perspective is headline news every day. Only empathetic people, from all sides, will keep powerful forces from exploiting our disagreements.

With a Perspective, this is Steve Torgerson.

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Steve Torgerson is a retired Air Force chaplain. He served in Iraq and was wing chaplain at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield.

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