Saint Francis said “No man is to be your enemy.”
One of the biggest concerns and pitfalls of the new century is dehumanizing those who view things differently and who’s opinions differ from our own. In the last 20 years this seems to have particularly been accentuated. Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu notes:
“When we see others as the enemy, we risk becoming what we hate. When we oppress others, we end up oppressing ourselves. All of our humanity is dependent upon recognizing the humanity in others.”
― Desmond Tutu, Anglican clergy & leader
Tutu was working and operating in Apartheid South Africa, and took that activism to change a social and political climate. The difficulty of dehumanizing others stalls progress and continues to build walls between us. At it’s best the church is to be the conscience of a society.
John Henry Newman, 19th century Anglican and Catholic scholar, noted the need for the church, and her clergy to give voice, addressing the political arena whenever necessary:
“Above all, clergymen are bound to form and pronounce an opinion. It is sometimes said, in familiar language, that a clergyman should have nothing to do with politics. This is true, if it be meant that he should not aim at secular objects, should not side with a political party as such, should not be ambitious of popular applause, or the favour of great men, should not take pleasure and lose time in business of this world, should not be covetous. But if it means that he should not express an opinion and exert an influence one way rather than another, it is plainly unscriptural.”
― John Henry Newman,
While remaining true to scripture and conscience, we should always seek to better and enrich society whenever possible. Francis said “While you are walking somewhere to preach, be sure that your walking is your preaching.” We must always strive to treat others with differing opinions, not as enemies, not dehumanizing them, not over-politically, but retaining the truth that each person is the image of God, and a child deeply loved.