All we can do is try to be nice to each other

Forrest Johnson

“Just try to be nice to people,” my grandmother always said. “You can’t change who they are or why they are. All you can do is try to be nice to people.”
My grandmother was a spiritual woman who believed in the ways of Jesus and knew how to get rid of warts by rubbing them with a piece of bacon under a full moon and then having a third party hide the bacon under a rock.
It seemed to work.
She could also find water with a forked willow stick, sang in the glee club, and caught walleyes by casting in the dark. During the Depression, hobos and those down on their luck could get a meal, and she later told me that our family always had enough to get by and share.
She taught me to whistle loud enough to break a pane of glass.
“Just try to be nice to people.”
I thought of my grandmother the other day after reading about efforts by conservative Christian groups to get energized politically and engage in the “spiritual war” that people like Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum say is underway. According to some of these fearful folks, Hell is just over the horizon, and the vehicle this nation is riding in is blindly headed right toward its fiery realm.
I don’t know—these folks just don’t seem to be thinking the way Jesus might expect them too, what with their mixture of God and the fear of free thinkers and immigrants and the dislike of gays, the belief in the free market and tax cuts and good old competition to keep prices in line, deregulation and a membership in the NRA and their belief in the never-ending need for national defense.   
I was reading about this born-again fellow by the name of David Lane who has been organizing Pastors’ Policy Briefing symposiums across the land, in the hope that evangelicals and conservatives will hop on board and get their version of God in the political arena to shape up the nation.
That doesn’t sound nice to me.
I’m sure there’s some money to be made in the process, a way to make an honest living, I suppose, and he’s been pretty clever to invoke the Constitution as a sort of divine document, ordained by God.
Earlier in the winter, a whole host of potential Republican candidates showed up in Texas to hobnob with the pastors and drop a few hints about how religious they are and how the liberals and the progressives are not and that’s why this nation is in the pickle it’s in.
God is on their side and obviously the Devil is setting the roster on the other team.
I don’t believe Mitt Romney was invited. He’s Mormon, you know.
People like Santorum, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, and the recently converted Gingrich were all fawning over the chance to show that they go to church and believe in the Good Book and the Word of God, and by golly the people in charge right now don’t seem to care one bit about the fact that this nation is exceptional and that we have been blessed.
We’re letting it all slip away, apparently. I guess those folks haven’t noticed the greed of the marketplace nor the selling out of the nation in exchange for a better profit and a tax cut for the wealthy.
Gingrich was quoted as saying that the right to bear arms was ordained by God. He said American exceptionalism was proven because its founding documents were endowed by the Creator himself, even though the founders saw fit to continue to allow the institution of slavery and ignore the native population and lands that the new nation kept bumping up against.
Conservatives seem to be willing to give the Constitution and the Founding Fathers a little too much credit, in my opinion. We have a unique document, yes, but one that reflects the human conundrum of differing views and compromise, of leaving a framework that future generations can debate forever.
At least those fellows left God out of the debate.
I’m guessing that God likely hasn’t changed his belief in what’s right and wrong in this universe. I would hope that the Creator would exhibit a continuity of beliefs that humans seem so fickle about.
Santorum recently flailed away at Obama’s “phony beliefs,” though he quickly offered a clarification that muddied up the waters even more with evangelical semantics. He offered that we are a Christian nation, one where God is our pilot and he hopes to be co-pilot in the president’s seat.
I don’t know—I would hope we could leave God out of the political debate. I would like to think that God would want to be left out of the debate, leaving us with our free will to determine how we take care of each other in trying times.
Just try to be nice to people.