In C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, we are introduced to the series’ most famous antagonist, the White Witch. In a subsequent book, we learn that the White Witch is a queen from the dead world Charn. We also learn the reason for Charn’s demise. Rather than surrender her world to her sister and rival, White Witch chose to utter the “deplorable word” which destroys everyone but the person who spoke the word.
While Tuesday’s joint session with Congress probably softened some people’s view of President Trump, some view him like the embodiment of the deplorable word, wreaking havoc on our politics and our way of life. For others, his mere presence has caused tensions among our citizens to rise to an unprecedented level. Take away President Trump and you remove the wedge that has caused the greatest political divide in recent history.
I believe most of us agree a change in our politics is necessary. Some might believe that only President Trump’s removal can restore the American political environment. On the flip side, others might believe that President Trump is the unorthodox change we need to, “Make American Great Again.” I believe that both of these opinions, while convenient to believe because they each offer an easy solution, miss the true cause of our political unrest. In the next several post, I am going to present the case that the most important change we can make is found in how we discuss politics among ourselves.
By Providence, our American forebearers established an American experiment in self governance. As “we the people” determine the course of our nation, it is inevitable we will disagree among ourselves. This makes it of the upmost importance for each of us to foster and maintain the skills necessary to debate controversial political topics while still retaining our civility and respect for one another.
Although we sometimes feel like politics are outside of our control, it would be fatalistic and dishonoring of the sacrifices of those who have gone before us to conclude such and that therefore we are free to abdicate responsibility for our current political condition. While we must remember that change takes time, ultimately we are still in control of the political climate in our nation and, just as importantly, our future as a nation. And unlike the world of Charn, no one leader can utter the deplorable word to obliterate our ability to engage with each other. However, our refusal to engage with each other to solve the political unrest may prove just as effective in the long run as the deplorable word.