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Harris Blackwood: On politics, let’s lower the temperature
Harris Blackwood
Harris Blackwood

April 30, 1863 was set aside by President Abraham Lincoln as a day of “humiliation, fasting and prayer.”

I don’t know if Lincoln’s proclamation made it below the Mason-Dixon line, but I’m sure there were folks in the South who were praying, too.

Sometimes I wonder what God thinks when opposing sides are each seeking his blessing on their efforts.

I have always enjoyed a good, well-thought debate on issues, including religion and politics.

In the current climate, I don’t like talking about either.

On social media, I have friends on all sides of the political spectrum. Sometimes, I look at what they have to say on the same subject and wince. Often, they are just repeating something they heard someone else say. If you really don’t have an original thought, maybe you should give some thought before spouting out someone else’s words.

I’ve been to a few NASCAR races in my time. One of the things that I find interesting is that you can look on a single row and find a dozen people rooting for 12 different drivers. There is a little good-natured ribbing, but at the end of the race, they walk out and often exchange congratulations as they go.

When I was watching the recent Georgia-Florida game, it was interesting to look at the camera shot behind the goal post. You can almost draw a line and find Dog fans on one side and Gators on the other. But then you happen to see the one or two opposing fans stuck in the middle of the opponent. Most of the time, there is a playful banter.

In the political arena, it seems that behaving with a bit of decorum has gone out the window. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen such a polarized electorate. The name-calling borders on vicious.

Sometimes, in reading their musings on social media, I finding myself asking, “Did they see the same train wreck?”

Quite frankly, I like having friends with different views. I don’t like it when they start pulling out their fangs and claws at each other. I want this election to be over. I’m tired of the mean-spirited attitude on both sides of the fence. 

I’ve been praying about this election. I’m not praying about the outcome, I’m praying for what’s beyond the outcome. We need to be neighbors again. We need to love our communities and one another. Nobody expects us to be in lock-step formation about anything. Our diverse interests should make us curious to know one another better.

Not everyone who wears a burka or a hijab is a terrorist, neither is everyone who wears a Make America Great Again cap. I don’t have to subscribe to one’s religion to have a conversation with them. Most of the people who condemn someone with a different religion haven’t really met some of that faith. There are people who love this country and are not Baptists, Methodists, or Presbyterians.

When I step up to vote, no one is looking over my shoulder to see if I voted for a certain candidate. The most important thing is that we exercise that right to go out and vote.

If you haven’t done that already, remember the polls are open Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose column publishes on the Sundays.

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