CAN'T WE ALL GET ALONG? by Rector Chris Girata
CAN'T WE ALL GET ALONG? was published in the Katy Trail Weekly, "The Good Word" Column, September 25, 2020
Chris Girata is the Rector of Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Dallas, TX.
As I prepared to write this, I searched for “can’t we all get along” to discover the history behind the simple phrase. To my surprise, the moment this phrase was popularized in our culture came in 1992 when Rodney King, having physically recovered from his beating, begged people to stop the riots in Los Angeles. As we likely all remember, King was beaten brutally by police officers in 1991, and then in April of 1992, the officers were acquitted of wrongdoing. The acquittal ignited intense riots that continued for six days, killing at least 63 people and causing catastrophic damage in Los Angeles. On day three of those riots, King appealed to the public to stop rioting, saying, “People, I just want to say, can’t we all get along? Can’t we all get along?”
I’m afraid that passionate issues have become more important than the people they affect
Nearly 30 years after those riots, there have been very few moments when our country appeared as divided as it does today. I’ve heard these divisions explained as necessary for a healthy democracy. Yet the hurtful, even hateful way people treat one another has begun to exceed even the most cynical view of social discourse. I wonder how healthy our democracy can be after we treat one another so badly.
Thankfully, we have come through collective moments like this in the past, and I am hopeful that we can come through this one, too. Although there are great reasons for hope, I’m aware that hope is not the same as fate. Hope is active and intentional, calling us all to rise above that which divides us in order to seek the greater good.
Hope is active and intentional, calling us all to rise above that which divides us in order to seek the greater good.
As a person of faith, my concept of “the greater good” comes directly from my tradition. In the Christian story, we see a complete, unequivocal honoring of all people. In our humanity, we make mistakes, and when those mistakes hurt ourselves or others, we are challenged to seek forgiveness. Yet no matter what mistakes are made, we are to love others. Without question, the model of love we find in our scriptures compels us to a love for others that overcomes any and all worldly limitations because we know we are loved first.
Religion and the rules that come along with it can often get in the way of the true message of love. And even if you choose not to root yourself in a religious identity as I do, I trust that our shared humanity can appeal to love as the ultimate motivator to remain hopeful for our future. We have work to do, and we can do that work when we choose one another over any and all issues that try to divide us.
These next few weeks will be hard and there are powers in the world that will seek to divide us. Remember that we are always stronger when we work together, and with love on our side, healing can be part of our bright future. For that, and for all of us, I hope.
"The Good Word" Column is published bi-weekly, and can be picked up at the Saint Michael South Entrance.
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