Yesterday was Columbus Day. But really it was a reminder that our nation is in constant argument.
The earliest history lesson I remember on Columbus portrayed him as a bumbling explorer. He did not realize where the ship landed, and so he called the indigenous people “Indians” — assuming he was in the East Indies. Unable to identify his location meant the Europeans would not call the land Columbia, but America (after Amerigo Vespucci).
As a high schooler I would learn a darker side, but even as an elementary student I thought it was strange a bumbler earned a national holiday. Still, I was not one to cancel any holidays. At eight I just wanted the day off from my labor. Unfortunately, Columbus did not merit school holiday status…
Back to yesterday, and my social media was full of Columbus. Everything has become a dividing line — take sides! 30 years ago the argument would have been one sided, “Columbus Day is a ridiculous holiday, just an excuse for bankers to take off and department store sales!” Any bankers in the room would have smiled slyly, “makes you wish you were a banker today!” And we would ALL agree…
We were united in the need for more holidays! And united in more important ways… at the core we trusted each other.
Today we still have store sales (Prime Day), but no longer find a place to agree. Trust has unraveled. “In America, interpersonal trust is in catastrophic decline,” writes David Brooks in the Atlantic. He sites multiple studies and stats, including that a majority of Americans today do not trust other people when they first meet. Without knowing the other’s politics or education or … walls go up to protect.
How do we build back trust?
One step is to remember we are not that different. Everyone would like another day off! Work is a part of the Fall after all! 😉
But the more important step is one only you can take. Lower your defenses. Open the gates or tear down walls (sometimes we are so protective we forget to build gates!). This is risky. Gullible, some will accuse.
But as someone who is often called “gullible” — “if pastor just lived in the real world,” — I have found offering trust is reciprocated. In the church and outside. Of course some people take advantage. But not most. Far and away most people return trust. Most lower their own walls.
With open gates we find relationship. Across boundaries we discover the value in each other. The value God placed in each of us. And this is the way of the Kingdom on earth.
“On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.” — Revelation 21:25