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Houston And The Eclipse Turned America Away From Hate. Let’s Keep It That Way


“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies.” When Abraham Lincoln uttered those words in his first inaugural address in 1861, he was pleading for unity in a badly divided nation. Let’s repeat those words over and over again. And let’s remember them as we try to make sense of a strange juxtaposition in recent news: the enmity of riot-hungry members of groups like Antifa with the angelic kindness poured out by average Americans who came out in droves to aid victims of Hurricane Harvey.

This is an astonishing contrast that should awaken all of us to the farce of so-called anti-hate activism. In these times of blind rage and social distrust, we’d do well to meditate on Lincoln’s reference to the better angels of our nature, also in that speech:

“Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Human beings by nature cannot live in isolation. We want to come together as friends and as neighbors. The divisions we feel are mostly visited upon us from the outside—through media, the bureaucratic arms of academia, the dictates of popular culture. All of those forces are increasingly dominated and controlled by a batch of high-tech corporate moguls in Silicon Valley. It’s as though the devices they bestow upon us are instructing us to hate, when we really just want to love and be loved.

‘Nobody Hates Anybody’

Just as people of goodwill are aghast at the senseless attacks on Americans in the name of “anti-hate,” they’re also inspired to see the images of heroism when Americans sought out those in danger to save their lives. Just as inspiring are the images of comforters, like the guy in the Spiderman costume visiting children in a shelter and the impromptu singing among victims, so grateful to be safe and together even as they experienced great material loss.

Recently, the French press agency AFP reported in the aftermath of Harvey with this headline: “In devastated Houston, ‘nobody hates anybody’ as people come together.” As folks help storm victims clear debris and try to salvage what they can of their homes, no one cares what your identity is or what demographic you represent. In the faces of helpers, the people of Houston only see the faces of fellow human beings.

But if we are to believe the propaganda media, we all have axes to grind all of the time, such as the disgraceful stereotype of Texans as bigots. One Houstonian put it this way: “You hear nothing but bad press, you hear nothing but, you know, this group hates this group, and then you find out: nobody hates anybody. Everybody comes together.”

In fact, if people are allowed to talk to one another one on one, they will find that few want to hate others. Evident in the acts of those everyday heroes and comforters was a true desire to love our neighbors as ourselves.

The Magnificence of our Place in the Universe

Human goodness was also on display in another recent act of nature, as striking in its own way as Harvey. It happened as strangers came together to share in the glorious experience of watching that very rare total eclipse of the sun on August 21.

The event was splendid because it so transcended worldly concerns. My family traveled to the midline in the path of totality, to Lebanon, Tennessee. We picked out an area of public baseball fields, not crowded, from which to watch the event. All who came together there—maybe about 70 of us gathered on those acres—came exclusively to experience the moment.

No one talked politics. It was, perhaps, a tacit understanding that any mention of politics was forbidden. But it was more than that. Bringing up politics would have felt like an act of pettiness. It would be inappropriate, like belching loudly in church. Our common humanity was a given. Anything else was trivial by comparison.

My family gravitated to the 20 or so folks who had set up telescopes and canopies. It was a hot day—in the 90’s. We brought fresh ice to share and were welcomed like old friends. Excitement and joy were in the air. We came together from a lot of places, like Virginia, Texas, Maryland, Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio. Among us were backyard astronomers, a nature photographer, a retired science writer, a machinist who brought welding goggles as eclipse glasses. Nobody talked much about any other line of work.

During the 90 minutes of partiality, we got acquainted as we donned our eclipse glasses. We also looked in the cardboard box I had put a pin hole in, and viewed the progressing eclipse through filtered telescope lenses others had set up. This magnified view, complete with sun spots, was amazing.

The Mystery of That Moment

At the moment of totality, we were all one human family sharing in the absolute wonder of an improbable phenomenon. Cheers and awe filled us. When I took off those eclipse glasses, I wasn’t prepared to witness firsthand what I had seen in countless photographs. There it was! A corona of fire surrounding the perfectly placed disk of the black moon. There was nothing but atmosphere and space and some tears between that reality and me.

The deep twilight allowed us to see Venus and other stars, as well as a 360-degree sunset. We all expected it, but were stunned nonetheless. To borrow a phrase from C.S. Lewis, we were surprised by joy.

We had two short minutes plus 28 seconds to take it all in. It ended literally in a flash—a spectacular and blinding flash of the sun’s sudden brightness as the moon’s movement started to expose the sun’s surface.

Eric Metaxas wrote an essay recently in which he recalled his curiosity about the improbability of such an event being visible to us. Fifteen years ago, he set about calculating the size of the moon relative to the sun, and the distances of the sun and the moon relative to earth. He did the arithmetic, and was astonished at how the ratios matched up to the point of causing the mysterious precision of that disk-on-disk totality that allows us to look directly at the sun’s corona. So, what do you think? Is it coincidence, “because science?” I think not.

If nothing else, this amazing cosmic drama reflected back on us our common experience in the universe, our common humanity, the wonder of life, and unity under God.

Back on Planet Earth

If Americans actually had a significant problem with hate (and we don’t) do you really believe the solution is for us to focus on hate to the exclusion of everything else in the universe? I suspect purveyors of hate would like us to. That’s because hate is about turning us away from truth and beauty. It’s about separating us from one another, about pushing each of us into isolation.

We need to return to planet Earth. Let’s listen to the better angels of our nature.

The propaganda media’s current preoccupation with hate is really a war against conversation, against human friendship. It amounts to an instrument of tyranny that serves tyrants and nobody else. In his book “Democracy in America,” Alexis de Tocqueville put it perfectly: “A tyrant puts all of his care into isolating people; he readily pardons the governed for not loving him, provided they do not love each other.”

But here we are—Harvey and the heavens. Two acts of nature, so different. But the amazing thing is that both of them can bring us together as a people, united in experience and purpose.

So all of this talk about hate, hate, hate is wearing a bit thin, don’t you think? It’s so un-American, too. The drones of elitist groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, the race-mongers, the gender-mongers, the virtue signalers, the PC-mongers, the guilt-trippers— good grief, it gets old and tiresome.

We don’t like to be divided. We don’t want to be divided. So why do we seem so beholden to folks who would program into us a desire to reject our common humanity in the name of identity politics? Why are we constantly obeying the command to look at one another in the context of race, sex, nationality, gender identity, and so on? It doesn’t make any sense.

We need to return to sanity. In a word, we need to return to planet Earth. Let’s listen to the better angels of our nature. They’re telling us to overwhelm the insanity of division with acts of mercy and goodness. Let’s take joy in our common humanity by meditating instead on the Great Mystery of love.