Option 1: I’m right and you’re wrong and that’s that.
Option 2: We’re all right in our own opinion and that’s that, let’s just get along anyway.
These are the two options most of us see when engaging in our society. You’re either pro-choice or pro-life. You’re either anti-gun or pro-gun ownership. You’re for gay marriage or you’re against it. You’re either FoxNews or HufffPo.
It’s exhausting and most people seem to teeter-totter between engaging in the topic du jour and ignoring it. They are exhausted by it because it lacks productivity. Few people can argue another person into change. But we seem to live in an age where winning is more important than virtue.
In the real world, over a cup of coffee or across the fence with a neighbor– away from the dopamine fueled social media where you are rewarded for saying ludicrous things sub-consciously with your next notification, most people are pretty civil towards one another.
Most people, when exposed to another’s reality, will start to understand someone they are diametrically opposed to. They might not know how to move past differences to productive relationship.
It’s not about not judging and it’s not about giving up who you are. Productivity between people diametrically opposed to is about creating a new reality.
This is the world Andrew Marin steps into in his book, Our Last Option.
Our society is broken. It’s segmented. We’re taught to think… “That person is either on my team or they aren’t. If they aren’t on my team I have empathy for them, we can even be friends, but I’m still better than them at the core of my person.”
All of this fracturing has lead us to, as Marin points out, a societal depression. We walk around thinking no one truly knows us, no one can know us, and the world is out to get us. Whoa is us! We’re the richest nation on the planet and also one of the least happy.
So we go to the doctor to medicate.
Or we go to the liquor store to self-medicate.
And we hang out with people the same way smokers hang outside their place of employment, bonded by our sameness rather than experience wholeness in community.
Ugh. Please, Jesus, point us towards reconciliation. Thankfully he does.
In Our Last Hope, Marin gets us past the lament and gives a real, practical, and field-tested method for moving forward. While he’s quick to point out that his method isn’t “the” method, I agree with his premise that it’s a good place to start. (chapter 2)
If you loved his first book, Love is an Orientation (see my 2009 review), and are curious how to take what he’s learned by acting as a bridge between the conservative evangelical community and the LGBT community has to do with other cultural divides, I think you’ll really get something from this work.
Fair warning, it’s a bit academic. But this is the kind of heavy lifting, deeply rooted in Christian practice, that our culture is dying for.