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How to unite — not cancel each other — in a divided world

Adam Weber
Courtesy of Adam Weber

I’m pretty sure I don’t need to say it, but our world is a little divided right now. Just a little, right? That’s the understatement of the century!

In the past when you’d talk about things like abortion, immigration, gay marriage, and global warming, you’d get some strong opinions. A few heated reactions. There might be a little division.

Now it feels like most words you say get those same opinions, reactions, and divisions, but multiplied by a hundred!

Words like “protest.”

“Privilege.”

“Masks.”

“Corona.”

Side note: Can Corona just go back to being a beer you drink on the beach?!

Seriously though, you say one word and immediately people get angry.

Immediately, people are polarized.

Immediately, people grow multiple heads and turn into dragons who start going after you on Twitter.

Sound familiar?

We are so divided and polarized, and I would argue that this division is a much bigger deal and a bigger challenge than any pandemic we’re facing. But even that statement might be divisive.

So how do we love people well when the world is so angry all the time? And, more specifically, how can we become more united in the midst of so much division? Good question, right?

The thing is, division and differences in the world aren’t anything new. Which is good news for us! Differences in opinion have been around as long as people have been around to debate who’s right and who’s wrong, but the problem happens when we start putting that need to be right above someone else’s identity as a fellow human being worthy of love and respect.

So back to the question: How can we be united in the midst of so much division?

Humility!

Unity starts with humility.

We need it, desperately.

You do, and so do I.

There’s power in humility.

What do I mean by the word “power”? Power is strength — it’s how we move forward, and it’s how we get things done. Power is the engine that makes unity possible.

Again, humility! There it is. We’re united now. Check that box. Unfortunately, humility is the opposite of how we typically live.

We live like the power for unity is found in arguing.

If I yell a little louder …

If I post more stuff on Facebook …

If I just get really angry …

… maybe someone will finally agree with me.

… maybe they’ll finally come to the good side.

… maybe they’ll finally become enlightened like I am and not be so stupid anymore.

I just want to ask: how’s that going for you?

You probably know this already, but adults hate being told what to do. We hate it! Arguing, shaming, and cancelling will never change anything, especially not how another person thinks. Pride will never bring unity; it will only bring more division.

But you know what does bring unity? Humility.

The belief that you’re not actually better than the person next to you.

The thought that maybe, just maybe, you could be wrong.

The practice of putting another person and that person’s needs ahead of your own.

If we want to establish unity and not division, we need to start with humility — yours and mine.

The truth is, there are a lot of things that have, are, and will be debated for centuries.

Democrat vs. Republican

Students: Should they go back to school or not?

To vaccinate or not to vaccinate?

Childbirth: natural or epidural

Mask or no mask?

What if we put as much effort into finding common ground as we do picking apart each other’s arguments? Instead of automatically focusing on what makes us different, what if we chose to celebrate what makes us the same? What if we chose to humbly listen? Chose to respect instead of belittle someone else’s point of view? What if we loved each other as broken, messed-up people, and not just because we fall on the same side of the political spectrum?

What if we chose to find power in humility, using that humble attitude as a way to work toward greater unity in our family, in our workplace, in our city, in our world?

Do you disagree with someone? Instead of distancing yourself, befriend them. Get humble and sit down and listen to them. It’s much harder to hate someone over coffee. It’s more difficult to judge people when you’ve heard their story, and not just viewed the pretty parts from a distance.

Too often we write off people we don’t agree with as being evil, but is that really our job? Is that really finding power in humility, or just finding power in our own opinions? Often, we’d rather tear people down than simply try to understand.

Don’t get me wrong: humility isn’t easy. In fact, it’s really hard. But it is possible!

When it’s pride and division versus humility and unity, I’ll pick humility every time, even if it means doing the work.

Together we can walk toward a more united world — one cup of coffee, ten-minute conversation, and humble attitude at a time.

We might not be able to fully achieve it in this life, but we can do so much better than we’re doing right now.

Adam Weber is the founder and lead pastor of Embrace, a multi-site church based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and the author of Love Has a Name: Learning to Love the Different, the Difficult and Everyone Else (WaterBrook, 8/25/20) and the ECPA bestseller Talking with God. Visit him at AdamWeber.com.

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