A Common Country
By Rep. Kristi Noem
On June 14, Members of Congress, their staff, and Capitol Hill Police were fired upon while preparing for a charity baseball game. The incident left five victims with varying degrees of injury. Due to a fast response from law enforcement, however, dozens of lives were saved and I’m immensely grateful to them for that. My prayers have been with all those involved and their families, but also with our nation.
We are a country built on the freedom to disagree. Our Founding Fathers orchestrated a revolution to ensure their children and grandchildren would not be ruled by a monarch whose heavy hand eliminated the freedom of religion, speech, and press. Later generations embraced peaceful protest to protect liberties for all, earning women the right to vote and ending segregation. Our men and women in uniform have fought to protect these freedoms; their sacrifices ought not to be taken for granted.
None of this means that America hasn’t struggled with how to deal with disagreement throughout our 240-plus-year history. During the worst of times, the differences erupted into a brutal Civil War. But even as neighbor stood against neighbor, brother against brother, Abraham Lincoln turned his focus to what binds us together: “Let us at all times remember that all American citizens are brothers of a common country, and should dwell together in the bonds of fraternal feeling.”
Although the divisions today are nowhere near as deep as they were before our nation fell into the Civil War, many have come to feel complete disdain for those who have a different political view – a reality we see in our daily interactions on social media and elsewhere.
In the back-and-forth of issues we’re passionate about, I understand contempt can be an easy emotion to fall back on. But when things get heated, we must keep in mind that the person we’re debating is God’s creation too. That, in and of itself, demands civility.
So, I ask that you join me in praying for our ability to disagree on matters of policy, principle, and belief while maintaining respect for the “other side.” I also ask that you keep the president, members of Congress, and all elected officials in your prayers. Finally, I ask that you seek God’s comfort and strength for every family impacted by violence. I will be doing the same.
I wanted to close this piece with something I wrote after Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot: “We are all South Dakotans and we are all Americans. Those are ties that will always remain stronger than any political affiliation or ideological viewpoint – no matter how strongly held.”
I am so proud to represent South Dakota and our diversity of viewpoints. Thank you for always surrounding my family and I with your prayers. It truly means the world to us.