The events in Charlottesville, Va. have only intensified in many the desire to find some solution to the political polarization that we all see ripping our country apart. It has led some to the point of frustration: can’t we see each other as human beings, can’t we have a civil dialogue without incessant name-calling, can’t we just get along! Like the brave and well-meaning man in the picture above, can’t we just learn to be kind again?*
The simple is answer: no.
The Apostle Paul reminds us in Galatians that one of the fruits of the Spirit is “kindness” (5:22). In other words, kindness is a result of a life re-born in God. It is not, therefore, something that we should expect to find too much of in a non-Christian world that dismisses God as an idea of ignorant antiquity or in a Christian world that does very little to culture the presence of the Holy Spirit.
These two groups naturally want people to be nice to one another, to tolerate one another, and to Make America Great Again, but they want to arrive at this state in their own way and by their own means.
The Apostle Paul acquired the fruits of the Holy Spirit only after much struggle: “In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness” (II Cor. 11:27). Yet, we want everyone to be nice and for America to be Great Again while we sip on our iced coffees and monitor our FaceBook page for “hate speech.”
The hard truth of the matter is: I can’t Make America Kind Again, I can only struggle to become kind myself. I can only do this through a life of fervent prayer and repentance, accompanied by much weeping and self-condemnation, and aided by participation in the Sacraments of Christ’s Holy Body, the Church. Perhaps, after many years, I may begin to see to fruits of God’s presence in my life, one of these being kindness. But, certainly not if I display no more than good intentions or wishes.
The cultivation of this fruit takes so much labor because the kindness that the Church knows is so much more beautiful, sublime, and heroic than the stale “niceness” that the world so desperately wants to impose on everyone else. The Church knows nothing of the false kindness that loves only those who love in return (cf. Luke 6:32). The kindness that She dispenses to those who have been truly re-born in the Spirit (Jn. 3:3,5) loves those who hate it; being reviled, it blesses; being persecuted, it suffers with patience (I Cor, 4:12).
So, How do we Make America Great Again? “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near” (Matt. 4:17). And if we find this Kingdom within ourselves, we will have “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and goodness” (Gal. 5:22), and thousands around us will find this same salvation.
*(Picture originally posted by Stacie Hill on Face Book, August 14th, 2017)