The national rhetoric leading up to this election has been more than dissonant. We have realized that our nation has been deeply divided. Now that we have election outcomes, we are experiencing a strange sense of that divide where many individuals are struggling to know what to do and what to feel. I have been encouraged that many Americans are discussing the need to bring together our people and heal relationships that have been broken.
In a recent interview with the The Most Reverend Bishop Michael Curry who is the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church on the Today Show, Bishop Curry shares his thoughts on how our nation might approach healing. He asserts that if we were to care for those with whom we disagree as much as we care for ourselves, it would be a significant beginning. He then shared a story from the 2016 election that I think is compelling.
Curry cited an example from 2016 following an incident which a 78-year-old white man named John McGraw punched a younger black protester named Rakeem Jones in the face at a political rally. McGraw pleaded no contest to assault and was given a suspended 30-day jail sentence and a year of unsupervised probation. At a hearing for his case, he apologized to Jones and the two shook hands and hugged.
“At the sentencing (McGraw) apologized. He apologized to the man he punched,” Curry said. And he said to him, “We are in a political mess, both of us, and we’ve got to heal our country.” Rakeem responded back to him, “Let’s go out to lunch!”
Maybe for us all this is a moment where we can cross the aisles and divides and begin a face-to-face dialogue with those whom we disagree. It seems an opportune time to take individual responsibility to consider having lunch with someone of a different perspective, gender, political belief, race or religion to begin the process of understanding one another better. Being with someone different than ourselves could be a potential beginning to expand our capacity to find common ground, allowing us to build towards a more unified country, person to person.
You can listen more about the entire interview with Bishop Currey. It is a powerful interview that is important for all of us to hear. As the Bishop says, “America, take each other to lunch!”