My Turn, Rev. Olen Bruner: One nation under God indivisible
Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 20, 2022
With midterm elections approaching, we must open ourselves to the true meaning of these foundational understandings, that, too often, for so many of us, these are just words we say before an activity or ceremonial gathering.
But let’s look to the wisdom of this national ritual for how it can guide us beyond party, beyond our chosen bubbles of rhetoric and mis/information, beyond today’s current issues to see if we can recapture what is enduring, what is indeed foundational, to being an American among our fellow Americans and what is required of us in service of Democracy.
Can we rise above partisanship, beyond demonizing our neighbors, to remember that everything this great nation has been and can become hinges on this basic fact: We are one nation with conflicting, passionate opinions and versions of history? Supported by the First Amendment and the One Person, One Vote guarantee, we agree to disagree. Failing to recognize that these necessary supports allow our democracy to exist. At the same time, we point fingers, and sometimes guns, at one another over issues, akin to arguing inside a burning building.
Make no mistake, our democracy is aflame. And it is on the ballot this November. The question is not can we put our partisan differences aside—for we must. The question is: How will we do this when corporations, special interest groups, and fringe conspiracists pit one fellow American against another as they fill the airwaves, the internet, and our ears — even our hearts — with …
Our democracy was founded upon the understanding that each person who helps to direct it with their vote does so as guided by a moral compass. Regardless of one’s religion, or choice not to follow one, it is easy to become entangled in the issues of the day, invoking a moral fervor and claiming God—or an inarguable logic— is on one side or another. We must replace this one-sided moral fervor with a unifying moral imperative. The question is: What will it take for us to tune into the still, small voice of conscience over the fervor an noise of partisanship? Can we see in our fellow Americans, whether we agree with their opinions or not, as valuable voices sharing in the fundamental processes of Democracy? Without this, Democracy will die. In this election, we must set partisan issues aside and elect candidates who unify by respecting the rule of law over the privilege of power. In this election, we must vote our most profound conscience as one nation, under God.
We often pledge and declare that we cannot be divided as a nation. But can we feel the power of being One nation, one people, in the face of issues threatening to tear us apart? How do we see beyond shortsighted issues and remain faithful to democracy itself?
Autocratic influences, race-based nationalism, massive voter suppression, and violent efforts to undermine election results fill our media screens and our heads. Polarized flag-waving and simplistic solutions hide, rather than heal, our nation’s wounds. These schisms can obscure our hearts but let them don’t overshadow the heart of our one nation. Above all, we as a people — Americans must remain — all for one and one for all. That we remain one nation under God indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. Our nation depends now on you.
Rev. Olen V. Bruner is a retired Salem Presbytery. (P.C.USA) pastor.