Land This Plane
On November 19, 2016 (just 11 days after this crazy election), I found myself on a plane with my wife just trying to get home. It was a four-hour flight home to Cleveland, OH from San Diego, CA. I fly all the time so I pretty much know how things play out. There are people trying to help other people get in their seats or load their bag overhead. Often, they are making small talk. But that’s not how it was on this flight. It seemed to me that everyone was looking at each other with complete disgust and wondering, “Are you the one? Are you the one who voted different than me? I’m done with you! I don’t want to know you or have anything to do with you. Don’t sit by me.” I can’t explain it, but that was the vibe.
The majority of the flight was fine as far as flights go. We all got a free soda and snack. We put on our earphones and waited to be told it was time to put our tray tables up for landing. But then, it happened. The last 90-seconds became brutal. Strong winter winds and snow mixed with ice pounded our plane. Babies started crying and grown men and women sighed aloud with each turbulent bump. Lisa grabbed my hand with a very real look of fright, and the lady next to her said really loudly, “Dear God!” which sounded more like a prayer of help than a flippant statement.
I could feel the plane correcting its path as we came closer to the ground. There were times we felt completely sideways to where we should be compared to the runway. I even felt the plane’s engines speed up. Maybe they do this just in case they need to abort the landing and ascend back up to take another stab at it. I’m not sure. All I can say is that it was not good.
Then we hit the ground VERY hard and very fast. No one said anything because we were still going too fast. When we felt the plane slow down and we could tell that we still had enough runway, the passengers all burst out into applause. Order was restored. I looked at the lady next to my wife. She had a look of relief and of kindness on her face. I said to her what I wanted to say to everyone over the intercom, “You know what? During the last 90-seconds no one was a Democrat or Republican, were we?” To which she just smiled and said, “Yep!”
I’ve watched the discourse for over a week now. I am brokenhearted both for my country and for my fellow man. I never thought I’d hear what I am hearing.
Can I tell you something? Can you give me an open space within your heart to say this without you turning me off already? Here it is:
“It is hard to hate up close.”
You can’t push people away. If you keep people close to you and have relationship with them, you can’t stay disgusted for long. I have friends telling their friends on Facebook to un-friend them - friends on both sides.
Because I work within a religious world, I have a lot of conservative friends. And, because I work within the artistic world, I have a lot of liberal friends. And this is why I am so broken hearted. They are all GOOD! I love them all very dearly. They have all enriched my life. Even if they don’t line up with every single point of view I have, I still love them because I know them and their heart. I can’t push any of them away. I need them all!
So, go ahead and delete and un-friend people on Facebook, but you CANNOT delete and un-friend 16 million people who voted different than you.
Love really does conquer all.
And love starts with empathy for others. I found this clip on the TED website. Please click HERE and listen with an open mind. This man calmly offers very good insight to human tribal thinking and gives sound advice at the end.
My heart in writing this is NOT to start a thread where everyone tries to set others right. My heartfelt desire is to use what little influence I may have to bring peace.
The dualistic mind of Us vs. Them has to stop! It is not moving civilization anywhere positive.
“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.” (Jesus of Nazareth - Matthew 5:9 MSG)
To all who have an ear to hear and a heart that cares, PLEASE help me “land this plane!” I am asking us all to use this crisis to “Come let us reason together.” I shudder to think what it might actually take to bring us together again and make us one.
P.S. - Here is an excerpt from C. S. Lewis' classic book, The Screwtape Letters: