So, I put it out there: Trust the process. Trust the paper.
It was an editorial printed in the paper. It doesn't get any more public than that.
Trust that the paper can hold space for neighbors to talk to neighbors.
I know there are many that say that this is a tall ask. I know there are some that say it is simply impossible to talk to each other; the breach is just too wide.
But I don’t believe it. Neighbors can talk with neighbors.
Here is an interchange that illustrates my point.
The poem was written by my friend Sky Kershner. Some might remember him as the Rev. Sky Kershner who served as the minister of the Barryville Methodist Church in the 1980s. He now lives in West Virginia and runs a pastoral care clinic. He wrote the following on his Facebook page. The conversation that he had with one of his neighbors plays out in real-time.
“My neighbor took down his Trump flag today
I'm sure it was hard for him, and I don't just mean
Getting the 20-foot ladder out of the garage by himself.
I mean, it's hard when you think the world one way,
and then you find out, once again, that it is another.
I thought about stopping,
And offering to hold the ladder,
but I know this kind of thing is a solitary process
And each person does this kind of inner work
At their own pace, and in their own way.
I expect he will feel something inside as he takes the flag down
Complex feelings, I hope, not just bitterness and anger,
That’s too simple for the importance of this moment.
But a combination of loss and frustration,
tempered by a recognition that we, the people, all of us, have spoken, and a willingness to surrender to the voice of the common good.
I admire him for taking it down in the daylight,
For all of his neighbors to observe his process:
The careful stacking of the yard signs,
The leaning of the ladder against the house,
The pause before climbing,
As if to say, I don't really want to be doing this
And at the same time, the acceptance that
To hold out any longer makes no sense.
And would create a wall with his neighbors.
And so he climbs, rung by rung,
Feeling something that he might not even have words for
Until he reaches the eye hook that holds the flag
And cuts the zip tie attached to his hopes,
And gathers it all up to put in a place, as yet be determined.
‘Necessary losses,’ that is what Judith Viorst calls them,
When you relinquish that thing your ego has fought so hard for
And you surrender the fight to the reality of time and gravity,
Or to the importance of our greater social bonds.
My neighbor took down his Trump flag today.
And to his credit, and my surprise, since I do not know him well, in its place now hangs the flag of our nation.
A testament to his process, and a hope for our healing."
Thus ends the Facebook reflection and begins the conversation.
R.F. Healing, really? The Democrats and [mainstream media] have promoted hate every single day for 4 straight years and now a call for healing? Sounds like division just got deeper and wider.
S.K. Thanks for your response R. and for your honest reaction. This has been such a painful time with such sharp divisions, and I really hear that you want to make sure that I know your view that the hate was originating from the Democrats, and your fear that the result of this election will drive the divisions deeper. It is certainly possible that I misinterpreted the meaning of my neighbor's action. It is certainly my hope for healing, if not his. I think I understand your view, that it is easy for the victorious party to claim the beginning of healing now that they have won, and that infuriates you.
R.F No, what infuriates me is the DISRESPECT our president has had before he was even inaugurated and the smugness this biased corrupt media to report doom and gloom when our president has done so much in the world. Rather than promote good like Middle East peace and North Korea relations, they want to try every angle to report falsehoods for 4 years, yet, sweep, Biden relations with Burisma and China totally under the rug. It's unfair, unjust and UNAMERICAN. And they now want to talk about healing. That is hypocritical.
S.K. You really value and respect the office of the president and the person of the president. You value our leaders getting credit for their achievements, and truthful reporting of their accomplishments. You hate that that has not happened…
R.F. I would think hate is harsh, upset, yes.
I respect a president that does put America First. And the platforms promoted.
S.K. I hear you.
R.F. Where is your son going to school?
S.K. Centre College in KY. How about yours?
So yeah, we can listen to our neighbors. It's really quite simple. We just have to listen.
Reflect back. Don't argue. Find common ground.
It's important. Our healing depends on it.