"I doubt whether justice, which is a forerunner of peace, will ever be pulled out of a hat, as some suppose. Justice will find a home where there is a synthesis of liberty and unity in a framework of government. And when justice appears on any scene, on any level of society, man's problems enjoy a sort of automatic solution, because they enjoy the means of solution. Unity is no mirage. It is the distant shore. I believe we should at least head for that good shore, though most of us will not reach it in this life." -E.B. White, from the essay, "Unity," in Essays of E.B. White
Jesus' words, 'A kingdom divided against itself will surely fall,' is probably the one sentence that gets me through debates and divisions within the church. Sometimes I feel like we're all getting pushed out towards the fringes, to disagree for Disagreement's sake. Other times it seems there's nothing more we want than to not get along.
In Sara Miles recently published book, Jesus Freak and her earlier memoir, Take This Bread, she talked about how all are welcome at the table. A similar analogy was used by author Bruce Bawer some years ago, as it pertains to gay individuals in modern society. In his book, A Place At The Table: The Gay Individual in American Society, he asks the heterosexual readers if they've ever wondered how it feels to be gay when it comes to showing affection in public. From showcasing photos in office cubicles to going for a walk hand-in-hand with your loved one some cool, summer evening, Bawer argued that it was out of fear of exclusion from society that gay individuals couldn't express love to one another (at least, not in public).
Maybe things are a bit different now, but the principle still remains the same. But I think Jesus and E.B. White's quote is talking about something beyond simply protecting people from exclusion; he's writing about bringing peace through reconciliation and inclusiveness. We can't merely think that the solution--in any social context--is for our position to win out or the majority (or minority) we belong to, to triumph. This is not on the road to that 'good shore.' The way to reach that shore, I think, is by telling ourselves, 'it's not about finding one solution, but about liberty and unity,' and, like the Pledge of Allegiance ends, 'justice for all.'