We have become a deeply polarized nations, with ideology trumping practicality at every turn. We saw this in the fiscal cliff debate. We are seeing it in the gun control battle.
Does politics have to be this divisive? Can it fulfill Aristotle’s ancient ideal of lifting up our national conversation and morale, rather than weakening and cheapening it? Can we still speak of the idea of the common good?
Jewish tradition has some useful wisdom and insight to address this challenge. We love debate, but we also love meaningful solutions. Here are some guidelines for achieving them:
1. Civility is sacred: We do not gain points by pushing another down. Rather, we gain respect when listening, understanding and responding thoughtfully to an opponent’s point of view.
2. Words are sacred: Among the greatest Jewish transgressions we can commit is engaging in Lashon Harah, which is a Hebrew phrase meaning “malicious conversation.” Lashon Harah does not refer only to gossip or overt lying. It encompasses language that shames another. It includes words that incite conflict rather than invite cooperation.
3. Life is sacred: In the next few weeks, we will likely hear many debates about background checks, assault rifle capacity, and the Second Amendment. These are important issues. Yet, our underlying moral concern must always be the presevation of life.
It’s Not Just About Gun Control
Preserving life is a moral imperative speaks not only to gun control.
It demands a focus on what we watch on TV and what games we let our children play.
It challenges us to think about those who feel no sense of hope or purpose and turn to violence for attention or glory.
It urges us to ask ourselves what we are doing to build a culture where help is available to those who need it and parents and mentors are there for children who desperately need them.
The Role of Politics
Not all problems can be solved through politics. Sometimes legislation creates more problems than it solves. Even so, we need to take sensible measures that can help protect our most vulnerable. And we need leaders who think not only of campaign cash but of the common good.
The Bible tells us that “we cannot stand idly by while our neighbor bleeds.” Now is the time to stop the bleeding.
Friends, I will be on Fox News Live Friday at 1:00 PM EST discussing Religion and Gun Control. Tune in and let me know what you think!
By Evan Moffic