Neighbors, not enemies by Glenn Schuckers

I am reasonably sure some of my neighbors did not vote the way I did in the last election. That is OK with me because we differ on a lot of things.

Some of them prefer their steaks well done. I like mine rare. One may like wine with a meal while others prefer a beer or ice water. Some neighbors drink only “light” beer while others drink a dark lager. One would drive nothing but a Ford truck, others swear by a Chevrolet. I own one brand of tractor, a friend owns nothing but John Deere.

The fact is that we all have differences of opinions and those differences extend into our politics. Some folks on our road follow politics pretty closely, others have little to no interest in it. That is perfectly all right by me.

These differences of opinions may lead us to some lengthy discussions, but I have never known them to lead to a fight.

We surely are not enemies.

My opinions may differ from theirs and their opinions may differ from mine, but that does not stop us from plowing out each others’ driveways after a snowstorm. We still share our extra tomatoes or sweet corn or zucchini in the summer or extra flowers from the garden in the fall.

Some people who are NOT my neighbors have called me a “left-wing bigot” or even “Commie” for some views they think I hold. Although I don’t like being called names and I don’t even know where they got those ideas, but they are not my enemies either.

In short, I like to think I don’t have many real enemies, but I may be wrong.

I cannot understand people who ignore obvious facts or logic or science, but they are not my enemies, either. If people want to believe that the earth is flat, or the moon landing was a hoax or the earth is the center of the universe I can only feel some sympathy for them. But again, feeling sympathy and dissenting with those views does not make us enemies.

Or at least it should not make us enemies.

I believe we only become enemies when someone with whom I disagree wants to force me to accept his or her beliefs.

That has happened at some times in the past and it has not been pretty. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries some Christians felt is was their sacred duty to find and convert people in Europe who did not worship as they did. They used force to try to “convert” people to their method of worship. It failed. It was called the Inquisition.

In 1861 some people in America thought they should be allowed to continue to hold slaves and separate from the United States and form their own country and those beliefs and the difference in opinion that followed led to our Civil War.

On January 6, 2021, a large mob of people forced their way into the United States Capitol, the place where the Congress meets to conduct the business of the nation. Their goal as it looks, was to change the results of the 2020 election.

Their goal was to force their opinions on the nation.

I voted in that election. I went to the county election office, secured a ballot and voted, all in accordance with the law that was in effect at that time. I voted with the expectation that my vote would be counted and so far as I know it was.

All across the Commonwealth almost seven million voters did the same. About 80,000 more voters cast ballots for Joe Biden than were cast for Donald Trump. Those numbers are not opinion, they are facts.

As a very wise senator once stated, “everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not his own facts.” I believe that. If someone wants to believe that those numbers are really fraudulent, he is entitled to that opinion, but he is not entitled to force his opinion on all the rest of us.

If he or if she and the people who believe as they do try to force that opinion on all the rest of us, they become our enemies. If they try to overthrow the government that is charged by our Constitution with the duty to certify the winner of an election, they are not only my enemy, they are the enemy of all of us.

A very wise former judge once told me and my students that the law is the oil that allows us to live together in peace. The law specifies how an election should be certified, and going against that law goes against the very body of laws, our Constitution, that is the basis for our way of life. It puts sand in the gears that keeps the country going.

People may not like how the election turned out; that is their prerogative. There have been elections with which I did not agree, but I accepted them. If we are to continue as “one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all,” we must put our opinions where they belong and accept that facts as they exist.

We cannot be a nation of enemies. Whether we like the results of the last election or not, dozens of courts and judges have examined the evidence and have said there is no evidence to overturn the results of that election. I cannot believe they are all wrong. There will be another election in two years and another one two years after that. Instead of trying to undo the last election, they should be looking to the coming elections to see if they are the majority or not.

That majority is, after all, the basis of democracy. We have decided that we will live in a society where two ideas exist side by side: the majority will rule, but the minority will have a voice.

A voice. That does not give the minority the right to rule by force and attempts by the minority to rule that way will eventually destroy the nation.