It's become something of a joke either to say, or to accuse someone else of saying, "can't we all just get along?" And perhaps "getting along" does carry a sense of just white-washing differences and being "nice" in a way that is neither authentic nor especially helpful. Even so, I know that there is widespread agreement that we, as human beings (to say nothing of we who call ourselves "Christian"), need to learn how to express our disagreements in ways that are less destructive, and more constructive.
It is in this vein that author Rachel Held Evans announced last week that the first week of May would be a multi-blog "Rally to Restore Unity" (yes, it's an obvious parody of the "Rally to Restore Sanity" that Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert organized late last year).
Although there are several good ways in which one can decisively disagree with a position (and many positions need people to stand up against them!), humor is one wonderful tool. A couple of years ago, I shared one of my favorite examples, from singer/songwriter David LaMotte, as he tells the true story of how a KKK rally was nullified by a group of clowns.
The Rally to Restore Unity is somewhat different. The humor suggested here is less "ridicule" and more "parody," and I do love me a good parody. Participants are asked to create signs in favor of unity, perhaps by taking a well-known slogan that has been used in a divisive way, and instead using it in a way that promotes unity. For example, "Farewell, Rob Bell" becomes "Farewell, Flippant Dismissals."
Now, I've seen it, and I'm sure you've seen it, too. Some smart-aleck is bound to come along and point out that we're being divisive against divisive people, or something similar. To the extent that's true, I'll certainly admit guilt, as I've done before for similar contradictions. Nor do I pretend that I'm never divisive. I am not always the person I want to be. In fact, within 24 hours of learning of the Rally and announcing on Held's blog my intention to join in, I found myself on a message board saying things that, I'm sorry to say, were undeniably more "dividing" than "uniting." Indeed, as I found myself trying to think of a good parody slogan to use for my own sign, I thought through some of the wacky things that people say in the name of something they believe in. I thought of the antics of Donald Trump and the "Birther" movement. I thought of the folks who are insisting that the end of the world will begin later this month (I'll have more to say about that as the date approaches). There are so many opportunities... and yet, I couldn't think of a way to poke fun at those things without saying something that I felt crossed the line into mean-spiritedness. And that's not what this is supposed to be about.
So I went with a slogan that not only does echo the theme of unity well, but which should be recognizable to those members of my readership that come here more because of my Transformers connections than because of my religious ones. Whatever your background, I hope that many will take this opportunity to rise to the occasion. Let's stand up against the vitriol and anger that's characterized so much of what we see in the news today. The only way the prevailing attitude of divisiveness can ever change is if we make it change. And we're not just asking people to "think nice thoughts" or something similar (although that's a start!). We're encouraging action, as well. One such action is encouraging people to donate money to promote clean water in parts of the world that do not have easy access to this most basic of human necessities. If you would rather donate to a more-established charity, please feel free to do so, and to promote that charity on your own blog, in the comments here, or however else you wish.
Today, I hope to do my part to restore unity, and would encourage others to do the same.