MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Monday, October 26th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. WORLD editor in chief Marvin Olasky now on our call to be peacemakers in a world filled with strife.
MARVIN OLASKY, EDITOR IN CHIEF: Polarization. These days we hear that word a lot. But Christians should do everything we can to fight it. My favorite novel shows why. Its title is The Cypresses Believe in God. It’s by a Spanish author, Jose Gironella. The action takes place in Spain between 1931 and 1936, as the country heads toward a civil war in which close to 1 million people died. Sadly, the novel is out of print, and the cheapest copy I’ve seen costs $64. So, as a public service, here are a few quotations in several categories.
First, the emphasis on attack ads. Page 189: “The propaganda of the Rightist parties was disagreeable: All they did was attack the opposition…. They were in no way concerned with the real problems of the lower classes.” Page 578: “Both left and right filled the city with signs. ‘Down with this one, Down with that one.” Page 625: “Major tactics in the campaign: the buildup of the leader… the systematic insulting of the opposition… If they lose, they’ll destroy the ballot boxes.”
Strike two, the emphasis on winning at all costs, and thinking it’s now or never. Page 422, after conservatives win an election: “The gulf between victors and vanquished was ten times deeper. Defeat united the vanquished in a common cause.” Triumph went to the heads of the conservatives. Page 660: Partisans on both sides said, “This election will decide Spain’s next hundred years.” Page 668: The Left now “had a majority in Parliament. The people had expressed their will. It was time to settle accounts.”
Strike three, the tendency of partisans on both sides to live in a bubble, with limited information. Page 572: “Every citizen read a single newspaper, which chiseled him into a given posture as though he were stone. Each newspaper’s advertising space was bought by certain individuals, and the readers knew that those who advertised in other papers were their enemies.”
Fourth, the existence of real problems but false solutions. Page 517: Unemployment grew like a cancer. Page 569: The Communist leader says such problems will end if we have equality: “equal hatred for the landowners, the military, and the clergy.” Page 684: “Looting of all shops, churches.” And here’s the real reason on page 782: “That society has cut itself off from God.”
The author, Jose Gironella, thought that was true about both sides, the right and the left. Both had the tendency to think their leader more important than God. Both saw political opponents as enemies rather than potential friends.
That novel is set in Spain. Most of us are in the United States. But the teaching of Matthew 5:9 applies to Spain in the 1930s and us today: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
I’m Marvin Olasky.