A Time for Reconciliation?

Photo by Usman Yousaf on Unsplash

Bill McCormick, S.J. writes:

Do Americans have any appetite for reconciliation after this year’s tense election season? Should they?

During the first week after the election, I interviewed several Catholic thought leaders with these questions in mind. They did not all agree on what our objectives should be, but there was a consensus that any talk of a quick reconciliation is unrealistic. It will be slow, difficult work, and reconciliation may not even be desirable if the cost is too high…

Reconciliation can sometimes feel like building a bridge to nowhere when the parties involved do not have the same goal, which can be an intensely frustrating experience. A meaningful dialogue would seem to require an honest acknowledgment about such differences and conversation about what room there is for closing that gap.

Kevin Vallier, a professor of philosophy at Bowling Green and author of the recently published book Trust in a Polarized Age, told me, “Reconciliation requires policies that build social and political trust directly, and not just telling people to be cool to one another.”…

If Christians are not oriented toward the kingdom of God, then they will not be able to participate in the work of reconciliation at its most profound levels. And if one discerns that others are not oriented toward the kingdom, perhaps attempts to reconcile with them are impossible or even wrong….

Robert Christian of the online journal Millennial told me: “Christians are called to be countercultural in the United States. The throwaway culture is more deeply rooted in our society than we’d perhaps like to believe—and courage is required to consistently promote a politics of solidarity and the common good. But with the election over, there really is no excuse for American Catholics and other Christians to not press those who have won to consistently defend human dignity and promote human flourishing.”

Ultimately, the challenge seems to be that set by Pope Benedict in his encyclical “Caritas in Veritate”: how to resist the “dictatorship of relativism” with an affirmation of truth that is both objective and personal, a truth that both lovingly meets people where they are and calls out of them their deepest desires in the truth.