SOUDER: The great ‘Red vs. Blue’ divide

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There are many lessons for being a "red" person in a "blue" state.

By Chuck Souder

I probably don’t have to tell you this, but last week a very important thing happened in our country. For some of the most partisan observers, the day couldn’t have come quickly enough, especially considering the disappointments of the last few months.

One could scarcely turn on the television without being reminded of the coming event, whether it was a segment on the local news or simply the seemingly ever-present commercials. Many people displayed decals on their cars or trucks proclaiming their loyalty to one side or the other (allowing me to know who to cut off in traffic, and who to allow to pass with a smile and a wave). Just kidding.

Some of the more fanatical followers even had signs in their yards.

A few people tried to remain neutral, though those of us who take these issues seriously understand that “neutral” simply means “uninformed” or something worse. Because of this, those with strong opinions generally try to “convert” the so-called “undecideds,” often with the unintended consequence of alienating them even further from either extreme in the process.

For weeks, pundits weighed in with their predictions and the polls – though differing slightly, all suggested razor-thin margins. But no matter on which side of the divide you found yourself, you could likely find a pundit or a poll to bolster your hopes.

Consequently, hope abounded on all sides; and while emotions always run high, I don’t think it is a stretch to say the anticipation was even greater than normal this time around.

We are now a few days on the other side of the event, and for many, the excitement of the moment continues today; for others, the short-lived euphoria has already been – or in the coming weeks and months soon will be – tempered by reality.

It likely doesn’t come as a surprise to most of you that I have been an avid follower of this “red vs. blue” divide for the majority of my life. I grew up in a very “red” household in a very “red” state, so my formative years were exceptionally one-sided. However, since then I have lived in a red part of a “blue” state, a “blue” part of a “swing” state and a blue part of a blue state, so during those years, my perspective has evolved, albeit ever so slightly.

What all of these experiences have made clear to me is that these “red vs. blue” boundaries can separate families, come between friends and even divide churches. As a result, I have learned that there are many times when it is prudent to remain quiet on such matters unless you want to get into a passionate debate or worse, a heated argument.

Of course, most of you also know by now that I am sometimes not prudent (and even less often quiet) on matters that I’m passionate about, so I will once again jump into the fray with my analysis.

Acknowledging that my personal feelings and deep-seated beliefs may be clouding my judgment, I will nonetheless go on record to say that now that the college basketball season has started, I believe that Indiana University has a great chance to win it all. (What did you think I’ve been talking about?)

Oh, yeah. There was also an election last week. But because most of you can already guess what I thought about that (and because there will be plenty of time to talk about those things later), for now let’s talk basketball.

It certainly should be an exciting season for all local college hoops fans, no matter which side of the “red vs. blue” divide you are on. With U of L, UK and IU all ranked in the preseason top 5, fans of all three schools have reason for optimism.

Many people in these precincts have Dec. 29 circled on their calendars as the date that Louisville will attempt to exact revenge for its stinging defeat by Kentucky in last season’s Final Four.

As an Indiana fan, I was greatly looking forward to the rematch of last year’s thrilling last-second IU victory in which my Hoosiers dashed the Wildcats’ hopes for an undefeated season; but alas, that long-standing rivalry game has died, at least for the time being. Perhaps, if both teams play up to their expectations, we’ll get that rematch in March (or April!).

Until then, we can all cheer for our respective teams, and I will continue to be a “voice calling out in the wilderness” for my beloved Hoosiers. You see, for the past 5 years I have been a red fan living in a very blue place.

Like the biblical character Abraham, I am “a stranger in a strange land.” At times, particularly before last season, that has been difficult, and sometimes painfully so. When IU and KY met for the second time last year, in the NCAA tournament, I was again reminded of my status as a resident alien. And as a basketball fan, the reminder was most unwelcome.

However, the reality is that, as a Christ-follower, I should welcome anything that reminds me of my status as a “stranger and an alien” in this world. Jesus clearly taught that his kingdom was not of this world and that his followers were not to get too comfortable or feel too much “at home” here – whether it appeared our side was winning or not.

As a red fan in a blue state, the beginning of the college basketball season is a good time for me to remember that. And, if you are a Christ-follower, I’m hoping that there was another recent event that caused many of you to remember the same thing.

Well, for now anyway, UK is still the reigning champ, but both U of L and IU are waiting in the wings to try to dethrone the Wildcats. No matter where your loyalties lie, it should be a season to remember. “Let the games begin!”


Chuck Souder is on staff at Shelby Christian Church. He can be reached at csouder@shelbychristian.org. Find other columns by Souder at www.SentinelNews.com/columns.