“As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.” – Saint Pope John Paul II
Pretty accurate quote, huh? I think so. Just take a look at current events. Go turn on your television, or check the latest post to your Facebook or Twitter feeds, or pickup a newspaper—it is all clear as day. Our families, our nation and quite frankly the world is divided.
Right vs. Left. Blue vs. Red. Democrat vs. Republican. The Haves vs. the Have-nots. Progressive vs. Conservative. Authoritarian vs. Libertarian. Communist vs. Capitalist. Christian vs. Muslim vs. Jew. And I could list a dozen more. But let’s be honest, we can all place ourselves into at least one of the categories above. As the volume in our arguments increase, and the tone and vitriol grows more aggressive we take a step closer to repeating history.
“Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” -George Santayana
The above statue, sculpted by Ron Tunison, is located in Gettysburg, PA (the place where 160,000 Americans squared off against each other in what was the largest battle during the American Civil War). It depicts two men—one a Confederate General the other, a Union Captain.
The man laying on the ground is Confederate General Lewis Armistead, wounded during Pickett’s Charge, considered the climatic attack of the battle. The man coming to his aid is Union Captain Henry Bingham. Why was a Union soldier helping his enemy? Short answer, it’s because they were both Free Masons. Captain Bingham heard General Armistead’s coded message “…my poor mother is a widow”—a distress code used by Free Masons at the time. But it’s what happened between them that is most interesting. Suffering from several wounds, General Armistead handed over all of his possessions to Captain Bingham with a message to have them delivered to the Union General on the other side of the battlefield —General Winfield Scott Hancock.
Why would Armistead do that?
General Armistead and General Hancock had been very close friends before the war, closer than most brothers. When Armistead’s wife and children died, it was Hancock who was there to comfort him. In short, the two men considered each other family. But when the South seceded from the Union, Armistead chose to fight for the south and the belief in State’s rights while Hancock chose to fight for the Union. On the day they separated, Armistead said to his dear friend at the farewell party, “Hancock, good-by; you can never know what this has cost me.” Others heard Armistead tell Hancock “I hope God will strike me dead,” if I ever raise a hand against you in battle. The words were prophetic because, Armistead died several days after being wounded at Gettysburg leading his men in a charge against Hancock’s.
This is what we might be facing if we continue down the road it seems we are on —Brother vs. Brother.
I pray our country heals and that cooler heads prevail during arguments. Let us not repeat history, let us forge ahead towards peace for all mankind. I pray we can put aside our differences and come together as one human family regardless of race, creed, or color.
We can accomplish this if we follow one simple rule, especially when talking or interacting with others: “Love others as much as you love yourself.”
Try it and become part of the solution and not a part of the problem.