In etiquette books of yesteryear, it was a common suggestion that, in mixed company, one should avoid conversations related to religion, politics, and money. Many people followed this rule, and I suspect, it did keep social settings peaceful. To that end, in avoiding conflict, generations of adults did not develop listening skills, learn how to disagree agreeably, or how to present a counter-argument. Which, I believe, brings us to our current predicament: with religion, politics, and money no longer off the table, and because we have added COVID topics such as masking and vaccines, we no longer have peace.
We are all experiencing great divisiveness in our country, in our communities, and in our families because we don’t know how to talk to one another. It is easier to “unfriend” non-like-minded people from Facebook rather than listen to their opposing view. It is comforting to get our news from the same sources so our beliefs are bolstered rather than challenged. And, if someone dares to disagree, it is much more fulfilling to berate and belittle that individual rather than try to present a lucid argument.
I do not know what the answer is, but I do know what it is not. We are a community of believers, with a common goal of educating our children in faith, knowledge and character. We must stand together and support one another, regardless of our differences. It is not a time to unfriend or berate one another. It is a time to have those difficult conversations but with compassion for one another. We all come to our beliefs from a different vantage point, and there are compelling reasons for everyone’s personal decisions; they deserve respect.
As we come to the two-year mark of the onset of the Pandemic, I am optimistic in thinking the end is in sight. Governor Newsom indicated that he will lift mask mandates for the vaccinated, beginning on February 15. That guidance is not granted to schools – YET – but I believe it is coming, given the momentum that appears to be growing in other states. As the old maxim goes, “It is always darkest before the dawn.” Let’s hope that is the case.
In the meantime, I think it is prudent for all of us to turn to the Holy Spirit for guidance. He can show us the way to peace.