Friday, September 13, we received a letter mailed from Charlotte on 9-11. Because it was hand addressed to Mary Ann and Delbert Barbee, I think the mailer does not know us well. Only one person calls me by my given first name, Delbert, so the mailer and I must not be friends, or even acquaintances. Comprised of six quotations, the letter is adapted from a column by John Pavlovitz in which he questions the morality of Trump supporters. One paragraph reads, “Their [Trump supporters] religion is morally, spiritually and ethically bankrupt.”
As far as I know, no person likes or appreciates an anonymous letter, suggestion, or complaint because there is no one to question, discuss with, or even refute. In this situation the receiver is blinded by a spotlight, never to know who shines the light into his or her eyes. Anything anonymous besides a useful quotation or donation slices through potential thoughtful and enriching dialogue. It is all one-sided.
Mary Ann and I do not hide our politics. But we do not sport political yard signs, bumper stickers, or flags. Because the letter is unsigned, we can’t inquire why we received it. Does the sender see us a Trump supporters who need to be enlightened? Does the sender see us as wayward Christians who need to be re-centered? Or is the sender reminding us of their view of Trump? We can’t ask anyone, so we have no dialogue.
We are not offended by the letter, just puzzled why we received it. However, I see the letter as a deeper symptom of where we are in this country. Prior to the letter, I had never heard of John Pavlovitz, and I did an easy internet search. He, like many, is a blogger with a sizeable following of people opposed to Trump. Fine. Others like Trump. Fine, again. But the letter demonstrates to me that we have lost that word which is vital for a republic to work—dialogue. We seem to never discuss views anymore. We accuse. We shout. We fabricate truth or even lie. We have become a stiff-necked people who cannot see the ground below us or turn to see to the left or the right. Dialogue such as our Founding Fathers built this nation on is dead and that bods poorly for our future.
The oft spoken of isle has been burdened with the characteristics of a wall, perhaps our own version of the Berlin Wall instead of a safe space easily crossed. The isle has evolved into a line that few dare to cross. To do so would show a lack of firm enough convictions of one kind or another. Yet, perhaps while we pontificate on “our” side of the isle, our ship flounders.
Letters left unsigned are worthless, just as politics without dialogue is. Let’s open up and be mature about our differences. Our country needs it.