How neighbors with conflicting political views stayed friends: Good news for peace and the best news of all
"We don''t see them as Democrats. They''re the Mitchells. We know
they are good people who live next door. We love them."
In a country where 93 percent of us say civility is a problem,
this story in the Wall Street Journal is welcome news. We meet the
Gates family, who are lifelong Republicans, and the Mitchells, who
are lifelong Democrats. The two families are next-door neighbors
in suburban Pittsburgh. The Gates home displays a Trump yard sign;
the Mitchell home displays a Biden sign.
But next to each there is another sign which says, "WE [HEART]
THEM" with an arrow pointing to the other family''s home and "One
Nation" inside the heart drawing.
What is the key to such civility among families who disagree
Each couple has three children, roughly the same ages. They share
a love for hockey; the boys play on the same team. They gather for
dinner together each Monday evening. As the Journal notes, "They
don''t argue. They don''t label each other. They listen to each
other''s perspective, look for common ground, and recognize that
reasonable and good people can reach different conclusions."
Gillian Mitchell, age fourteen, says, "I''m not a voter, but I
think people should be mature and not argue all the time or fight.
Fighting just leads to more fighting."
"One of the best set of hearings"
The US Senate is expected to vote later today on President Trump''s
nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. During
a rare Saturday session, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) announced
her support, making it more likely that Republicans will have
enough votes to confirm Barrett''s nomination.
However, as another example of how bitterly divided our partisan
politics have become, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted twelve
to none last week to advance the nomination to the full Senate.
The vote was unanimous only because the ten Democrats on the
committee boycotted the vote to protest what they called a "sham
After Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) thanked committee chairman
Lindsey Graham (R-SC) last week for presiding over "one of the
best set of hearings that I''ve participated in," NBC News reported
that "calls for her ouster from Democratic leadership were swift,
unequivocal, and relentless."
Why Sudan''s agreement with Israel is so historic
In other news, Israel and Sudan will normalize ties in a US-
brokered deal. The agreement is part of what the Wall Street
Journal calls "a broader diplomatic realignment in the Middle
Friday''s announcement follows accords Israel entered last month
with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Unlike these countries,
however, Sudan has engaged in armed conflict with Israel in the
past as part of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and the 1967 Six-Day
Sudan also hosted the Arab League summit after the 1967 Arab-
Israeli War at which eight Arab nations approved what is known as
the "Three Nos"óno peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel,
and no negotiations with Israel.
The US designated Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism in 1993
for harboring Osama bin Laden and others and accused the African
nation of supporting Hamas, Hezbollah, and Palestinian Islamic
Jihad. US officials have suspected Iran of using Sudan to smuggle
weapons to Hamas militants in Gaza.
In other words, Sudan''s normalization of relations with Israel is
truly historic. US and Israeli officials say they expect Morocco
and Oman, along with several other Muslim and Arab nations, to
join the so-called Abraham Accords in coming months as well.
A Persian proverb on peace
Neighbors who oppose each other politically can still be friends.
Judge Barrett''s confirmation would end the divisive process of
filling Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg''s vacant seat. Sudan and other
Arab nations are taking unprecedented steps toward peace with
Israel. All of this is good news in our divisive days.
However, the November 3 election will not end political rancor;
some fear that it will only exacerbate tensions. The confirmation
of Judge Barrett would not end battles over the Supreme Court, as
court-packing could prove an even more divisive issue. Israel''s
agreement with Sudan will not lessen the threats posed by Hamas,
Hezbollah, and Iran, and it may exacerbate them.
As urgent as political peacemaking is, the ultimate key to peace
is not political. A Persian proverb quoted by Cal Thomas in his
new book, America''s Expiration Date, is still relevant: "There can
never be peace between nations until it is first known that true
peace is within the souls of men."
The prophet said to God, "You keep him in perfect peace whose mind
is stayed on you, because he trusts in you" (Isaiah 26:3). Jesus
told his disciples, "I have said these things to you, that in me
you may have peace" (John 16:33). Paul testified, "To set the mind
on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life
and peace" (Romans 8:6).
How to "become a loving person"
Tomorrow, we''ll discuss some practical ways we can experience and
share God''s peace in our divided culture. For today, let''s seek to
be at peace with the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). Ask your Lord
to show you anything that is keeping you from "the peace of God,
which surpasses all understanding" (Philippians 4:7), then confess
any sin or take any step he brings to mind. Ask the Spirit to
produce the "fruit" of peace in your spirit (Galatians 5:22).
Then determine to give others what God has given you. Frederick
Buechner noted that by God''s sanctifying grace, "the forgiven
person starts to become a forgiving person, the healed person to
become a healing person, the loved person to become a loving
Will you be a "loving person" today?