Today, I had the privilege of being taped on the WXDE radio show out of Lewes Delaware with host Dan Gaffney. He had responded to the following blurb that read as follow. Americans are so deeply divided today that one might wonder if anything could possibly bring us together. But author and theologian Sheryl White, D. Min., says that history can offer us some comfort, particularly Civil War history. Dr. White says we need to stop choosing sides on every issue, bridging issues instead. It’s not an all-or-nothing siding with pro-lifers or pro-abortionist, pro-gun or anti-gun, Democrat or Republican, conservatives or progressives. Dr. White can offer steps we can take to bridge that divide including ways we can strip away labels and stereotypes and make friends with people who represent different religions, races and positions on issues. Dr. White is a YouTube channel creator and the author of historical fiction based on the life of abolitionist and suffragist Laura Smith Haviland.
If you are following my Underground Angel YouTube channel, you will understand exactly what I am talking about. I have researched the life of Laura Haviland, the Underground Railroad Operator, Underground Network Creator, Civil War Humanitarian, and Best Friend to Blacks working to free them from slavery, and doing everything possible to help them create a life of freedom and opportunity. From her work, I have recognized seven steps to Good Trouble that were obvious in her life work 200 years before the Civil Rights Movement.
Do you think this political divide is a new reality? Think again. Over 150 years ago the slavery issue marked a deep divide and as I mentioned in my last video, there are 620,000 graves from the Civil War to prove it. There was great drama in the 1850’s, the decade before the Civil War. One such dramatic scene includes our Laura Haviland. Handbills with her picture were spread throughout the South with these words: LAURA HAVILAND WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE-$3,000 REWARD.
I used to watch the show Crossfire back in the last decade of the last century on CNN. Wow! That really makes me sound old! But, I always loved to listen to both sides, choose one, and root for that side. It got my adrenalin revved up and I looked forward to these debates daily. Yet, today political philosophies divide our country into two camps; and for some reason the pressure is to choose one side or another to the exclusion of truth that may exist in the opposing side, or that both sides may have elements of truth. In the USA you are either prochoice or prolife. You are either for gun control or against it. You are either a Republican or a Democrat. You are either a liberal, a progressive or a conservative. Each presents their own platform and you either accept it or you are ostracized from the party. Yes, and one more thing- there is pressure to accept everything on the platform. So, it is only normal that on most issues the country is divided- either you are for or against. It is increasingly difficult to find statesmen and women who are willing to build a bridge of agreement from both sides.
But, I believe we can build this bridge by following seven steps to Good Trouble drawn from Laura Haviland’s life. Her life work has always inspired me as I researched her autobiography, and learned more about her work from Sojourner Truth's life story. These steps are evident also in the life of many abolitionists such as Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglas, and Levi Coffin, as well. We must not forget the heroes of the Civil Rights Movement in the life work of Martin Luther King, Jr. and John Lewis. Of course, the truth of the matter is these principles and concepts come directly from the Bible and specifically the life of Christ. These seven steps include the following: 1) Become a friend to someone totally different from yourself. 2) Seek to understand with compassion and care. 3) Respect the rights of everyone-including authorities. 4) Do not judge/Strip away labels & stereotypes. Stereotypes do not adequately describe the whole reality or picture they are meant to symbolize. Sometimes they fit, but many times they do not. At other times, a stereotype or label is simply a cover for the truth. There is a danger of misjudging others by flippantly applying stereotypes without understanding the context in a situation. They are shortcuts that can be very wrong, deceitful, and most often painful. 5) Passionately promote non-violent change and action. 6) Seek out the truth not talking points. 7) Take a stand for forgiveness, sacrifice, and love even if you must break the law to do it.
Dan Gaffney prodded me on the issue of building bridges with those whom we disagree. He challenged my premise that these bridges can be developed through relationships. He asked me what Laura Haviland would have done on January 6th if she was taking a stand for freedom and honesty. I had to laugh at this as how can anyone know how a heroine from 200 years ago would feel and react to the politics of 2020 and beyond.
I had a vision of 4'9" Laura Haviland standing up to President Trump and chastising him for being either implicit or complicit in the creation of the violence at the Capitol on January 6th. I also could not really see her carrying a Trump banner. But, I do believe she would support those thousands of people who were taking a stand peacefully for what they believed. On the other hand, she would have run from the violence as she wanted no part of it!
Next Gaffney wondered how Haviland could have endorsed the Civil War. I had to honestly say, she did not endorse war period. But, she realized that after decades of accompanying slaves to freedom through the Underground Railroad that slavery would never be defeated without the support of the canon and sword of the United States government. Her role was to provide rations, basic nursing skills, and comfort for slaves as they walked into the Union Army tent of freedom. The road to freedom was fraught with heartache and difficulties. Yet, she gave her all to support as many as she possibly could.
My answer to the questions of building a bridge to relationships is also fraught with heartache and difficulty. Yet, I believe if we do not build a bridge of friendship, care, and respect with those whom we disagree, there will be no road at all. Our country will continue to be deeply divided, and we will have missed the opportunity to "love our neighbor as ourselves." Laura Haviland's theme was "Thine for the oppressed!" We need a country full of people who truly care for others in this same way. At least, we need those who go by the name "Christian" to live out the values of our Savior- who gave His life so that others could find true love, freedom, and peace.
Please check out Dan Gaffney and WXDE through these links: https://www.delaware1059.com/
Also, please subscribe to my Underground Angel YouTube Channel and my website at undergroundangel.net. If you are interested in knowing more about the work of the Sarver Corporation and ways we give back to the communities we serve, go to sarvercorp.com.