revdrwalter-t-richardson.jpgI do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.  — John 17:20, 21

Sound bites and slogans help drive our society. Sound bites are short clips of speeches or music, extracted from longer pieces, that capture the essence of what the speakers or musicians try to communicate, summarize information and entice readers, listeners or viewers. Slogans, likewise, are short, attention-getting expressions that promote products, people or proposals.

Sound bites and slogans run the gamut, from being modestly informative (“Miller Lite: Great taste, less filling”) to the somewhat suggestive (“Chevrolet. Like a rock”) to the completely irrelevant (“Nike. Just do it”). In general, both sound bites and slogans work because, when reviewed and repeated endlessly, they become virtually engrained in our minds.

Sound bites and slogans helped drive the recent presidential election. The campaigns of incumbent President Barack Obama and his challenger Mitt Romney sent messages to persuade voters to support their platforms. Romney’s team used “Believe in America” as its dominant slogan to suggest that the current administration was in many regards not as American as it should be and that it was being led perhaps by a non-American. The Obama team used “Forward” as its catchall slogan to say that change and progress were evolving.

Both teams spoke to community values. However, it is clear to even the casual observer that America, as we knew it, will never be the same. Today’s America is more diverse. There are more cultures, classes and colors, religions and rituals, persuasions and practices. There are dynamic paradigm shifts. However, with people cooperating and praying, we can embrace diversity without being divisive.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech, in our sound bite and slogan-driven society, has been reduced to “I Have a Dream.” Deep in the text of this landmark speech are words that our country, sadly enough, is distancing itself from under the guise of diversity.

Diversity is beautiful but the lack of focus on our commonalities causes needless disunity and fragmentation. We have to talk about race, class, culture and conditions. We have to boldly converse in meaningful ways about those actions that must take place to bring us closer to useful understanding and action.

And even though many assert that there are two subjects that are not open to conversation — religion and politics — they are two elephants in the room. The first is becoming last and the last is becoming the first. Those things considered foolish by the majority are confounding the wise. Little by little some are beginning to understand that God is no respecter of persons. He loves and is compassionate to all creation….regardless!

So, as in the prayer of Jesus to God about His current and future disciples, He prays that they might be one in heart, mind and spirit.  He prays for unity in the community.

Lord, we thank You for guiding our country through this recent election and we ask that You help us to remember that You are still in control. Lord, we thank You for all our hard-working veterans, many of whom have sacrificed their lives for us. We pray that You strengthen the soldiers who are on active duty, that they may constantly know that You are by their side. We pray for our President, that You grant him Godly advice and wisdom to lead us.

May the current clouds of controversy and adversity be transformed  into a community of diversity and we become, for our sake and Your glory, a more perfect union.  Lord…Make us one.  Amen

Walter T. Richardson is pastor-emeritus of Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church in South Miami-Dade County and chairman of the Miami-Dade Community Relations Board. He may be contacted at Website: