Unity is a worthy ideal. But as long as we are divided, the question remains which side you are on.

I am a student of religion, a realm as filled with idealism as any, and more than most. Yet along the long evolving paths to the spiritual ideal has come heated and sometimes bitter divisions about how to get there.

In all areas, it is uncomfortable that the ideal of comity and the conflicts coexist. Serious and stubborn differences arise, and with the conflicting certainties of being right, the better angels give ground to barely disguised demons.

In these times, taking sides matters. We wish there was broader middle ground to come together on, and we work for that, but when the powerful make clear it is them against us—against you—we might must resign ourselves for now to division over the big stuff.

That makes me heartsick, as it may you. Every wise word of peace and unity should be tattooed on our souls. But students of religion recognize that the stories of embodied evil are trying to tell us something. Not that people are bad, because we are reminded they and we are only human. But that powerful people can choose sides based on bad principles and actions. And getting along with them, ceding ground to them, may in some cases be a bridge to nowhere good.