October 7, 2018


I remember growing up following World War II with my father as a veteran of that war. There was never any question about our participation, or the outcome. If there was any controversy at the time, it was about our use of nuclear weapons (the atomic bomb) and the number of innocent lives that were lost in Japan and throughout the world. In those days, there was never any question in my mind that “America was always right. I’d say I lived in that bubble for only a short time before the Vietnam War broke out. Those were the days when I literally “came of age” and began to think, educate myself, and realize that I had an opinion and a right to express it. We’ll call it “the Sixties”, and it was a time in the history of our country when people took to the streets to express their disagreement with our country. These protests were violent at times, and our country was deeply divided.

In those days, you were either “for the war, or against it.”. When you ask someone how many died in the Vietnam War, many will answer: “58,000”. But that refers only to American lives, which was not my question. The true answer is hundreds of thousands of human beings on both sides, who believed in their causes and were willing to sacrifice their lives.

As you know, there was also major unrest and protest in our country as people of color marched for equal rights. Much of this controversy also coincided with the Vietnam era. Because of the leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the equal rights movement was focused on non-violence, but became another major division in our country. I don’t know how many lives were lost through slavery, but I would estimate hundreds of thousands. Our country continues to face the impact of racial discrimination every day, which in recent years has translated into #Black Lives Matter.

Now, once again, it appears that our country is divided as passionately as ever over politics. In my lifetime, I do not remember anything like the anger and hostility that divides the American people on the Right and the Left, Republican and Democrat, Conservative and Liberal. This is no doubt that this controversy has been exacerbated since the last election (2016) and is evident 24 hours a day. The recent nomination process for the Supreme Court has highlighted this (as it appears to be) insurmountable divide. In this case, it is not our religion, culture, or race that divides us, but our politics. “Us vs Them” has never been so evident in my lifetime. It truly scares me, and, as with the Vietnam War and racism, it will take generations to recover. Meanwhile, we walk among the wounded.

Enjoy Life!

Fr. Coyne


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