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Why do we all have to see and believe the same thing?

We live in a divided and divisive country.

In spite of the many advances that minorities have gained in America, racism is still a vicious and unyielding presence among us. Our political system wobbles feebly almost uselessly from the influences of corruption, bullheadedness, favoritism, malaise, haughtiness and indifference. Churches and the religious community once such a force for good and spiritual guidance are now often caught up in partisan political campaigning, serving politicians and clearly ignoring Jesus, not to mention the dispossessed, the sick, the young and the old, the hurting, the addicted, and the lonely.

All across the country there hovers in the air a spirit of nastiness, wrangling, antagonism, and bitter discord and discourse.

The story is told of a father and son sitting outside their house one summer evening talking and sipping iced tea. The night sky was a bit hazy but brilliant with stars and the son suddenly commented how beautiful the moons were above the nearby mountains. “Just look at those two moons how they glow in the night,” the son said. The father, looking at the sky over the mountains sort of laughed and said, “What are you talking about, two moons?” And the son said, “Dad, right there, over the high tree line; can’t you see them?” The father looked at the mountains and the sky again and only saw one pale moon hardly shining at all. He turned to his son and said there was only one moon in the sky. The son insisted that his father was not looking properly at the sky. Frustrated, the father said, “Son, you need to grow up; quit making childish comments like that. You need to start thinking like a man, a man of character and honesty. Otherwise you’re going to be treated like a fool and an idiot.” The son, offended by his father’s comment, said, “Dad! I’m not joking around. I see two beautiful moons in the sky!” The father said, “Son, stop this silliness now. Look at the sky and tell me that you see one moon peering through the clouds. And be honest!” The son, disheartened, said quietly, “Dad, I am being honest. Why won’t you believe me? I see two moons in the sky and they are amazing.” Then frustrated too he said, “Believe whatever you want, but they are there, Dad. I see them!” The father, exasperated, got up and mumbled, “Good grief. What has happened to you?” And walked into the house. And the son sat in his chair looking at the sky and whispered, “Why won’t you believe me?”

It is such a great parable for our time. All of the divisions between people today—political, religious, racial, cultural—are all represented in that father and son. The frustration is there. The anger. The hurt. The inability to see what the other sees.

Although fathers carry distinct differences from sons they still possess a common humanity and a bond, however fragile or strong, of belonging to one another.

It doesn’t matter who was right or wrong in this story. There are plausible reasons why the son saw two moons. It’s not important to name those reasons. Both refused to tolerate each other’s vision of what they saw in the night sky. Each kept trying to convince the other one of what they believed was reality.

And that is where we are today.

Somehow there needs to be a softening of our spirits. We need a new awareness of one another’s struggles, of our mutual needs, of how we each see the world, and of our individual contributions to the goodness of life.

Liberals have something legitimate to offer and so do conservatives. Republicans can have reasonable ideas for our country just as Democrats can. The non-religious are no less honorable than the religious. People of color should be regarded with the same dignity we give to Whites.

Let us work to relieve the hardships of life for all people. Let us be suspicious of absolutes and rigid ideology, whatever side of the issues we are on. Let us seek to cooperate with the whole human community to which we all belong.

A night sky with one or two moons is still something beautiful to take in. Wouldn’t it be great if we could learn to hold on to our own reality while still appreciating the reality of others? Why does everyone always have to see or believe the same thing?

© 2012 Timothy Moody

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