Our region was in the national spotlight again in June as national politics took center stage at the Duluth Port Authority and then Amsoil Arena in the form of a roundtable discussion and then rally with President Donald Trump.
The events in Duluth went off relatively well — emphasis on the “relatively.” There were only a couple of arrests and no serious violence. Certainly the majority of people for and against the president spoke their minds with civility and a sense of “Minnesota nice.”
Some didn’t. Obscene gestures and shouts and harsh accusations flew in both directions. A beloved local restaurant faced a boycott for allowing the “wrong” TV network to film on location. In social media posts, you could find the shocking sentiments we have sadly grown accustomed to — the kind of mentality that says “punch a Nazi” or run down protesters in the roadway.
This brought home, literally, the growing sense of division and — to be frank — hatred and the threat of violence that increasingly hang over our national conversation.
So it’s worth calling to mind that fostering deliberate hatred, even of our enemies, is a sin. Our call as disciples of Jesus Christ is to love our enemies and to build genuine peace and reconciliation with each other and to overcome evil with good. And that call is the same even if it seems at times like the whole world is moving in the other direction.
Among our Catholic family in the Duluth Diocese we have brothers and sisters on both sides with strong feelings about the president and the current state of the nation, alongside plenty of people with mixed feelings. No doubt there are momentous issues at stake, and our responsibility to the common good demands we speak the truth with clarity and courage.
But in a world that is so busy shouting, perhaps the best way to stand out is to speak without shouting. In a world that seems to want to talk itself into political violence, we must reject that false solution. In a world that gives no quarter to the enemy, we have to work with God’s grace to show what it means to love even in the midst of disagreement.
The times should call out the best — not the beast — in us.