Edward L. Ayers is one of America’s preeminent historians, focusing on the Civil War period of the nation’s history. In an interview with Albert Mohler, he draws lessons from that time that illuminate the issues we face today as a nation. What was the conflict about, really? How did brother come to fight against brother? How did verbal posturing and identity politics harden the lines and spur the conflict? What was the slippery slope process that led us into our greatest trial? Why didn’t someone from either side say enough is enough?
A short listen, it informs our national dialogue in today’s contentious times. While this comes from a Christian perspective it does not espouse any specific position. Rather, the discussion investigates underlying causes, vulnerabilities, and failures. The listener will understand that though from a different time these are not so different from what we are experiencing today. It is as if the past is speaking to the present, offering advice not on what is right or wrong, but on how to understand, value, and honor what unites us over what divides us.
Citizens of good conscience will disagree on various issues. Doing so with respect, honor, and a desire to preserve the best in us must be the standard of our dialogue if we are to avoid the deep pains of deep division.