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Divide & Conquer or Unify & Heal, You Choose


Divide and conquer or unify and heal? Today Americans go to the polls but it’s tomorrow and the days after that define us and determine whether we are a conquered nation or one that can begin to heal centuries old divisions. As I write this from my hotel room in St. Louis Missouri, my window faces out on the old State Courthouse, the origins of the place where the infamous Dred Scott court case, long known by Constitutional scholars as one of the worst decisions ever rendered by the United State Supreme Court, was initiated. It is a case that invalidated the rights, freedom and humanity of a people, Black people. Thankfully, the story of Black people did not end on the dreaded Dred Scott “decision day” but has continually been written from that day to this day.


As an African American, I share a history and heritage of being part of a lineage of resilient people. People who have embraced other down trodden peoples, even when we were the down trodden. People of strength, character and fortitude. People whose ancestors sold their brothers into slavery, but found redemption and forgiveness for their brothers and who continuously seek to heal the diaspora and ties severed so long ago. All peoples, whatever your race, ethnicity or culture, can look back in time to find examples of times when people from your “tribe” overcame adversity or sold their brothers and sisters out to benefit self or a select group of others. It has been the state of people, throughout the dawn of time. However, the ability to recover, heal, repair and forgive have also been part of the story of humanity since the age of man and woman began.


People are complex, systems of oppression are evil, a mob mentality is dangerous. All have been the conditions we have been exposed to in an increasingly divided nation. Yet today I awake with hope and you should too. Every day we are afforded new mercies and new opportunities to correct our failings and change the course of our future by the choices we make today. Today, Election day in America, we have a choice. Tomorrow when we awake, we will have a different choice to make. We will need to dig deep and determine, whether our candidate won or lost, who am I in victory and who am I in defeat? The true measure of a person is taken at this time, for your circumstances Wednesday morning won’t make you who you are, they will reveal who you are. So with that, I ask you to consider the question, Who Are You?


If you think that anything outside of you, dictates who you are, you have made yourself a victim of circumstance and the decisions of others. People did not accept the verdict of a misguided, hate filled Supreme Court on March 6th, 1857 and good people, people of courage, people from all racial, ethnic, religious, and many other backgrounds who are truly interested in healing a nation won’t accept misguided, hate filled decisions of 2018. So I ask you again, Who Are You today, but more importantly, who will you be tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow. Be empowered to choose, be empowered to change, be empowered to choose to be the change. Do it, as part of a collective. Find imperfect people like yourself, like me, people of like mind, shared values, well-intended and willing to partner with you and take risks, not to divide, not to conquer, but to unify and to promote and advance national healing.


I recall an old saying that charity starts at home and then goes abroad, well it’s the same with healing. Healing starts within and as we acknowledge our own need for healing, we are then better positioned to partner with others from a healthier place that won’t allow us to easily fall prey to disappointment, discouragement and setbacks. A healthier you can build resiliency that allows you to weather the storms of life as our fore mothers and fathers have, and to dig deep and find the strength to move forward in unity. Hate is unhealthy and many of us have heard the saying that un-forgiveness is like taking a poison pill and waiting for your enemy to die. Hate and un-forgiveness kills and warps you, not your enemy. Dividing you from your peace, conquers your soul. Finding unity within yourself, connecting your thoughts, emotions and actions will bring about the healing you need individually. Finding the strength and fortitude to unify with others to advance collective peace and prosperity will bring about the healing of our nation. You have many choices laid before you today, not just at the polling station. Choose wisely, all around.

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©2018 by Dr. Shai Butler