Voices to Heed

Obama ABC Town Hall - 7-14-16

All right, I’m going to try to wade into the polarized online rhetoric after watching ABC’s town hall broadcast this evening with the President. Before I do, I’m going to mention the Golden Rule with which I was raised–treat others as you yourself would want to be treated (I learned it as “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”). I see the Golden Rule as Jesus placing an emphasis on the importance of seeing things from another’s point of view, something he demonstrated again and again in the Gospels in his encounters with people such as the Samaritan Woman and Nicodemus, two particularly compelling exchanges in John’s Gospel.

I felt I needed that prelude because of how instantly virulent online responses can sometimes be when the President speaks. I’m asking you to suspend judgment for a moment and hear me out.

ABC arranged a very thoughtful seating of individuals who have been seen in coverage over the past week, placing individuals from different groups next to each other. The people invited to ask questions of the President were chosen by ABC, not the White House, and represented a variety of points of view. The President answered questions live, without notes, without advance notice. It was clear from how the questions were worded and how they were delivered that they were not scripted. They were heartfelt, distinctive, and worthy not only of the President’s attention but the nation’s as well.

As I write this, ABC has only posted excerpts, but I imagine at some point the complete hour will be available, and I strongly recommend watching it, regardless of your party affiliation, point of view, or ethnicity. As with the Dallas Memorial service, this is part of a new national conversation that is happening across the country.

I ask that you watch it with an open mind, an open heart, and the Golden Rule in focus. There is much to learn…and much to do.

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