A false dichotomy

"Everything in our culture has a meta-narrative of good guys vs bad guys," says Vern Neufeld Redekop of St Paul University, Ottawa.

He was speaking about reconciliation and economics, and why it's often hard to get to the point of choosing the communal good above personal gain. What really got me thinking was when he mentioned the amount of this rhetoric in George W. Bush's speech.

It is unacceptable for someone who calls him or herself a follower of Christ to accept such false dichotomies in their thinking. We are to be agents of reconciliation in the world (2 Corinthians 5:18&19), and most of the rhetoric of reconciliation and healing begins with really listening to and seeking to understand the "other". This does not leave room for enemies, or "bad guys". Neither do the teachings of Jesus, who instructed us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44).

It's not from malicious intent that Christians have often been guilty of accepting the idea of good guys-bad guys. We've focused -- perhaps overmuch -- on that moment of "becoming saved", and thus divided the world into saints and sinners, saved and unsaved, instead of focusing on living out that salvation through the long, winding road of discipleship, on which, I suspect, we discover that few fellow travellers fit comfortably into the neat categories we've laid out.

Let's endeavour to triumph above the insidious dualistic meta-narrative of society, and chose to see people as God sees them. Not as good guys and bad guys, as friends and enemies, as us and them, but as people with stories to be discovered. As people who can teach us something.

It's not easy, and I know it must start with me, with something so little as remembering that each SUV driver -- who honks at me, then speeds past in annoyance as I labour on icy streets by bike -- is not my enemy, but a person with their own story.


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