When President Barack Obama and Glenn Beck gave speeches in the same week, did you watch both? I doubt it. We are a polarized nation. The unity we experienced after 9/11 is only a memory.
The fix for this alienation from one another is to focus on two aspects of love — respect and forgiveness. This has been a proven path toward bringing factions together to work for the greater good. Prime examples are South Africa and Northern Ireland.
Our differences are “small potatoes” compared with those two nations. Sometimes we base our vote on trivial offenses — a busy official didn’t visit our city or neighborhood, or didn’t return our call, or called too often.
In the early 1990s, I learned about the Institute of Forgiveness, developed by Robert Enright, a psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He defined forgiveness as “giving up a resentment to which we are entitled.” Enright has established forgiveness courses as part of early education in the schools of Northern Ireland, hoping to teach children a new way to coexist.
Let’s send our senators and representatives to forgiveness school. And before we vote, let’s get in touch with our anger. Without forgiveness, the chasm between us will only grow wider.