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These questions are at the heart of my daily struggle to find a way to speak to others about the common life issues at the core of our currently divisive and derisive political discourse. I find myself oscillating between a search for the sharp observation or fact that will indict my opponents for their vicious incivility to the poor, the uninsured, the unemployed , the migrant as they pursue a selfish and narrow vision of an exlusionary and nativist white Christian America, and my other search for some sort of common ground that will help me understand them and reverse the hardening of hearts that their views express. I would like to think that the social gospel aspects of Christianity and the Jesus I learned about would create some humility all around, but it does not. Fears on the religious right have turned Jesus into a stick to beat the World with, and I don't understand that, anymore than I understand how a faithful Muslim could become a hater of non-Muslims.

The common life has got to begin with new positions for all of us around our common humanity. Religious and political beliefs that divide us into insiders and outsiders on any basis, commit the fundamental sin of religion, that of self righteousness. There is no greater soul and body destroying position than this. It is the very pollution of all true religion by a fallen humanity. My response to this is an invitation to a collective Silence, the Silence of the Quaker Meeting, of the Zen monastary, and of any and all contemplative and self reflective aspects of any religion or philosophy, however a-theistic it may be. The quieted mind is the beginning of all peace and reconciliation, for the Self and the World. The mind disquieted by the noise of the modern Media-made political and social world is its opposite.