“Why can’t we all just get along?” Who has not asked this seemingly simple question when fed up with all the violence, hate and chaos that the world fulminates with if one only relies on the bad news served by most media most of the time. Why is the question so hard to answer? Is it naïve and Pollyanna even to pose it? Is it presumptuous even to assume that “getting along” is what everyone even wants when we have come to the point where censoring ideas and the authoritarian “canceling” of social norms and memories (culture) — even real persons! — is emerging as an alternative to history?

The key to the answer — if we are hoping for one — lies in what we mean by “we.” When we say “we,“ “us” or “our,” we are implying some commonality. What do we all have in common that gives us something to get along about? Not long ago, we would hear a politician here and there speaking of “reaching across the aisle.” The implication was that, though the parties may have differences in political and socioeconomic philosophy, there was room for cooperation on goals and strategy. Laws could be passed that, though imperfect, all could live with and follow. Increasingly, it has become commonplace to reject any such conversation with a person with whose ideas one does not agree. We have seen this on college campuses and in social media. Some hierarchy decides that there are thoughts that may not be expressed and the person who expresses them must be silenced. All in the interests of what exactly?

If “getting along” means I am fine with you as long as you stay in your corner, then we are no longer treating one another as a “we.” So “getting along” is really just a code word for my way or the highway. If this turns out to be the predominant culture then “might makes right” prevails and tyranny becomes the norm. We have overturned the bedrock of freedom and civilized society, which is that all human beings are created equal and that laws and norms exist to protect the common dignity of every human being.

Maybe we are despairing that to accept the humanity of every human being is a bridge too far for a fallen human race to live by. Increasingly, despite the remarkable advance of science and technology, we see other human beings classified in sweeping collective categories, endemic to Hegelian-Marxist ideology. Though we have become more aware of late of its prevalence and ugliness, racism has been a consistent scourge of dehumanization and oppression, to some degree or other, in virtually every society of every time that we have knowledge of. And this has not diminished even today, despite the historical, anthropological and genetic evidence — the “science” — that points to the common ancestry of all homines sapientes (humans).

For those who pay attention to history — and those who do not are doomed to repeat it! — we are horrified by the ethnic and religious purges that have been documented, though often ignored, denied or rationalized by contemporaries. The biblical narratives of the enslavement of the Israelites, the extermination of Jews during the Hitlerian Holocaust and many others under Stalin and Pol Pot, the “silent” Mayan genocide and, even today, the persecution of the Uyghurs in Northwest China, only to name a few. In every case, the persecuted people are regarded as sub-human, marginalized and slated to be eliminated. No, there is no “getting along.” They cannot be one of “us” and, therefore, they must be obliterated.

The fate of unborn humans is no different. Relegated to a class — again, contrary to the science that clearly establishes the humanity of the unborn by its unique genetic code and its entelechy or self-driven nature — they are often treated as a product or an inconvenience, without any legal protection. Currently, the systemic elimination of the unborn judged to be burdensome due to Down Syndrome or some other developmental anomaly is contemplated in some jurisdictions as well as the denial of medical treatment to those deemed to be too old or frail to waste resources on. This is often gussied up as “progressive” policy, but a truly progressive society recognizes its greatest resource is its next generation. Killing our future is suicide.

We have a big hand, however, that has reached across the aisle to suffering humanity to lift us up from our own habitual self-destruction, the One who comes from so far to be so near. “Through the mystery of this water and wine, may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled Himself to share in our humanity.” Every day, the priest recites this explosive prayer as he pours a drop of water into the chalice of wine to be consecrated at Mass. It is one of the most profound and, one might say, combustible affirmations imaginable of the dignity of all human life. It represents that we humans — each and every one of us — from conception to natural death, are determined by God to be subjects of divinization, saints by vocation and destination, because of the immolation of a God who dies for us to cancel our sins.

Yes, that is God’s answer to the dilemma we face. Not cancel culture, cancel any person or group of human beings, but cancel the sin that divides and kills us! That sin is the oppression, generated by the Evil One from his infernal pride and hatred, that cannot stand the existence of creatures below him — in his own mind — who are loved and delivered to heaven by a God of mercy and compassion.

It is Christ who “reaches across the aisle,” the abyss that separates humanity from its heavenly destiny, and who becomes our bridge over the troubled waters of fear and prejudice that would divide us into unequal classes, relegating some to shame and oblivion. This is the Jesus not just of Catholics or Christians, but the One who is everyone’s Savior.

In last week’s Gospel from Mark, where we learn how the Holy Spirit drove Jesus into the desert after his Baptism, to be among wild beasts and to be tempted by Satan, there is a little passage easily glossed over: “and the angels ministered to him” (Mk 1:13). Angels are messengers or stand-ins for God. The plight of Jesus is ours as well and his immersion in the desert filled with hostile elements and evil forces is a metaphor for the fallen world in which we live. The takeaway is that, like Jesus, we are never alone. We are surrounded by grace — even angels and saints, personal assistants who are tending to us in our struggles — which will sustain us as we heed the Holy Spirit, teaching and reminding us (cf. Jn 14:25) of who we are, what we are called to and Who is calling us. No, Jesus was not alone, and neither are we.

This Jesus is accessible to everyone, every person of every race, nation, age or condition, at every state of human life, to be our friend, healer and deliverer. Our mission — or commission — is to be transformed, indeed “divinized” by his presence within us, sealed in Baptism, and to reach out to all our fellow human beings as Christ has done for us (cf. Mt 28:16-20). The ills that plague our current world, as generations before us, are overcome by the power of divine love, which silences no voice, hears the cry of the poor and drives no one away who seeks the embrace of the prodigal God who spends himself so lavishly that we all may have life to the full.