Between Chris McDaniel’s loss in Mississippi and the ever-growing crisis at the southern border, Glenn found himself “really, really pissed off” on radio this morning. But after spending an hour working through solutions aimed at bringing Americans together with Rabbi Irwin Kula, Glenn went from feeling “really angry to profoundly happy and at peace.”
Glenn first introduced his audience to Rabbi Kula last month, when he joined Glenn and leaders from various industries for a dinner at Mercury Studios. A self-described New York liberal Jew, Rabbi Kula admitted he once thought of Glenn as a right-wing “boogeyman.” Once the two men had a chance to meet and talk, however, they realized what united them was far stronger than what divided them.
This morning, Glenn became particularly emotional when talking to Rabbi Kula about the situation at the border and the tens of thousands of unaccompanied illegal immigrant children entering the country.
Over the last couple of days, Glenn has asked his listeners to consider donating to Mercury One’s Children and Family Border Relief Fund, and the fund has raised several hundred thousand dollars already. Glenn found himself moved to tears as he explained his own feelings about the situation.
Rabbi, I have looked for the next George Washington, and I haven’t found him yet. I haven’t found a man who is as decent and honorable… I mean, as Thomas Jefferson said, because I know God is just, I weep for my country.
Last night I wrote some notes on the border after reading what some people had said about the border. And you’re right. It’s justifiable. It really is, and I started really thinking about it, and here’s what I wrote:
Who are these people? Who is the President of the United States? Who are these people in Washington who have played this game for so long and look at the collective instead of the individual, that they’ll sacrifice individuals for the greater good in their own terms. How do they sleep at night?
They cause this suffering through their lawlessness. They cause this suffering, then they hide the suffering. There are the churches that are involved. What about the poor that are not getting help here in America because the churches are so bogged down by the borders? And all they care about in Washington are the votes and the special interests. And they look at people as pawns. How do they sleep at night?
How frightened are these children? I thought about my son last night, who is 9-years-old. I thought about him. If I said to him – because I saw the opportunity in America and my country was falling apart, and I saw the President was saying, ‘Go ahead. We’ll accept you.’ – I would send my son. And I would hold him and I would say, ‘Son, do what you have to do. But get across the border because you will have a better life.’
Then to be sitting in this situation and have the President and the Congress and the Republicans and all of them not even care, not even — There’s no one to hold that 9-year-old kid like my son. There’s no one to hold him and to say, ‘It’s going to be okay.’ I just can’t –
Rabbi Kula agreed that the political scene in the United States is “completely paralyzed.” But he believes the only way a solution can even begin to worked through is if we get to the root of the problem.
“Before we blame other people, we have to look in and ask what have we done to contribute to getting here. Now, there’s something about this problem on the border that’s different than previous,” Rabbi Kula said. “I think each of us has to try to be every person in the story – a parent sending their child and imagining their child. We [also] have to do it from the child’s perspective. And we have to do it and then vote for people who know how to do that.”
With that, the conversation pivoted from the problem to the solution. Looking beyond the border, the divisiveness in this country has prevented many smart, knowledgeable people from coming together and talking through some of the country’s biggest problems.
Until Glenn and Rabbi Kula got in a room together and just talked, they assumed they had nothing in common. That couldn’t have been further from the truth, and that discovery is not an isolated incident.
As Rabbi Kula explained, it has taken hundreds of years for us to get the point we are at today, in which people are unable to have honest conversations with one another. Likewise, it will take a longtime to move away from that mindset, but until we start consciously working toward building those bridges, progress is impossible.
“There’s no magic solution… There is no shortcut. [But we have to] attack the policy, not the person. Start conversations with people you know, relationships you have, so that people who you actually care about will explain why they have such a different opinion than we have,” he explained. “And if this sounds small, well, what conservatives always understood was grand scale solutions, revolutionary solutions will get us killed… There are no grand solutions. Grand solutions create for more problems.”
It is easy to meet someone and focus on the laundry list of things you disagree with them on. It is harder to look at someone, put aside those differences, and agree to work together on the handful of things you can unite on. But that is what we are called to do.
“I thought you were crazy, and I ignored you. Then what happened was I met you. And I sat down and had dinner with you. And we talked. We broke bread,” Rabbi Kula said. “We have no leadership talking. Congress doesn’t have dinner together anymore. We know that. It used to be… [they] may not like each other’s policies, but they were friends.”
If we are able to make strides within our own communities – breaking bread and coming together with those who hold opposing viewpoints – Washington will, in time, follow suit.
“Rabbi, I have gone, in the last 45 minutes, from really angry to profoundly happy and at peace,” Glenn concluded. “I hope that that conversation touched you in the way that it has touched me. We are not going to agree on everything, but we will make it… We have to see each other as people. We have to.”