Christ warns us that not everyone who calls him Lord means what he says (Mt. 7:21). Likewise, it is easy to discount calls for unity when issued by men who betray their own professed faith and threaten to crush those who refuse to follow suit.
Unity is of course a noble goal, but like any other good it has to be sought with knowledge and skill.
Both are exhibited in this op-ed by professors Robert George of Princeton and Cornell West of Harvard.
Though on opposite sides of the partisan isle, George and West are longstanding friends who often teach together. At a time when American society is painfully breached, and her would-be healers offer us disgraceful remedies, their practical wisdom is worth pondering.
Two things are essential, they tell us, if unity is to be a reality rather than a slogan: “honesty and courage.”
Honesty means admitting that, as men not yet wise, we must regard truth as an object to pursue, rather than a rhetorical bludgeon.
Seeking truth demands admitting our own errors and the flaws of those we admire, and changing our minds when reality impels us to do so. It also includes honoring what is true and good in those with whom we have protracted disagreements.
Courage means defending the truth as we see it, and refusing to give way when our enemies (or even our friends) attempt to pressure rather than persuade us to see things their way.
Pride is obviously an obstacle to peace, yet passivity is as grave a danger, condemning the falsely humble to serve false masters.
The meek, whom we are told will inherit the earth, are resolved to follow God and nature even when doing so requires them to withstand the breezes of human folly.
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