Next month America votes once again. Midterm elections. Meaning the elections for all of the 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives and the full terms of 33 of the 100 seats in the Senate. It has been a topic for discussion since, well, Donald Trump took the Presidency as many believe that the midterms could change the balance. But that is not what I want to talk about. What I do want to talk about is the road that leads up to this and the road America has been walking ever since that unfortunate day in November 2016. A road of different, often very outspoken opinions on pretty much everything. A road that has divided a country once so proud on its strength and unity, in haters and haters. A road of intolerance and unkindness. And, I’m sure, if we look back on this a few years from now, stupidity.
King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella have been hailed in history as the royal couple that laid the cornerstone of a unified Spain. They were warriors, unifying Castile and Aragon through their marriage and other parts of Spain by fighting the Moors. The Moors were Muslim inhabitants of the Maghreb the Iberian Peninsula later known as Spain, Sicily and Malta, initially of Arab descent. Ferdinand and Isabella successfully rid Spain or the Moors and then went on to expel all Jews as well, thus creating a unified nation under the banner of the Holy Church. They probably weren’t the first but they are the most famous and did it very effectively. True warrior as she was, it is believed that Isabella once said after conquering the Alhambra that winning a major battle doesn’t mean you have won the war. The war against the Moors was a war against unbelievers and therefor a war that would last until the end of times. How right she was.
It doesn’t matter whether it is the Republicans against the Democrats, Christians against Muslims, white against black, left against right. Intolerance, the inability or unwillingness to understand and accept that people, ideas, believes, opinions and preferences differ from person to person seems to be rooted in our DNA. IN the Middle Ages the Church and its Princes believed unity could only exist if everyone thought and believed the same (forgetting social status on the way but that’s another story). We still believe that. We still do not allow others to be different, to think different and to behave different. The story of Ferdinand and Isabella dates back more than 500 years, and of course there are other examples that are even older. And if we don’t take care there will be more examples in our future. If we don’t start understanding that unity doesn’t lie in similarities but in differences. In letting people be and learning from each other. In stopping believing that we are so much better than others. After all, we do not have to agree on everything to be kind to each other. –BM-