Hal Brady

Hal Brady

In 1965, Jackie DeShannon recorded a song that became immensely popular. The opening words went like this: “What the world needs now is love, sweet love / that’s the only thing there’s just too little of...”

If those words “to love” were true then, how much more are they needed today.

How would you assess that first presidential debate? For me, it was a bit disappointing and a long hour and a half. At times, I even felt sorry for Chris Wallace, the Fox News moderator, as he tried to manage the debate.

The contentiousness of the debate, with the repeated interruptions by both candidates, was certainly a distraction. If anyone watching was trying to make up his or her mind about which candidate to support, “good luck.”

What I missed in the debate was old-fashioned civility — a formal politeness and courtesy on the part of the candidates in behavior and speech.

Another thing I missed in the debate was the honest exchange of ideas about the multiple issues or problems facing our country, possible solutions and the way forward for the good of the whole.

However, I’m afraid that what we witnessed in that first debate is only a reflection of what has become a much deeper issue in our American culture — division, bitterness, half truths, distrust and an unwillingness to cooperate for the best interest of all our people. The tragedy is that love itself has become lost in the process.

Stated simply, seems to me that the positions of the political parties (right and left) represent two different ideas of America-right wants to preserve America and while the left wants to reconstruct America. Do you suppose that there could be a measure of truth in both views? Yet, sadly for me, there is no willingness to compromise either within or between the parties because bitterness and distrust are prevailing and no one has been or is willing to listen.

Whatever our position on the candidates or concerns of the upcoming election, the glaring need in my opinion is for a more compassionate electorate. After all, we will not only vote together, but we will be governed together after the election.

To be sure, we should vote our convictions but at the same time we need to move beyond or rise above the loud voices or rhetoric that benefits from our division.

Truth is, it will take all of us working together to bring about a more just, fair and stronger nation.

So why am I writing this? Because we Americans can do better than we have been or are currently doing. Our children and grandchildren deserve better examples.

Point? There is a third way that advances beyond the bitter display of the left and right, and that is the way of “loving our fellow human beings as we love ourselves” — all created in the image of God.

And this kind of loving others is not “pie in the sky,” but having respect for one’s opponent, admitting that we may not have all the truth, and considering anew the other person’s point of view. It is also understanding the quest for justice by those who feel denied as well as appreciating and being grateful for our American heritage.

Jesus wasn’t kidding when he said, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” and our calling, as people of faith, is to do just that, both in this election and beyond.

“What the world needs now is love, sweet love / that’s the only thing there’s just too little of...” For sure, love is the better way!

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The Rev. Hal Brady is an ordained United Methodist minister and executive director of Hal Brady Ministries, based in Atlanta. You can watch him preach every week on the Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasters TV channel Thursdays at 8 p.m.

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