Step up. Bring an axe.

At the produce stand, your mouth waters at the mere sight of the apples. A glorious rainbow of varieties. Each one polished to perfection. Oh, the joys that lie ahead — dumplings, turnovers, pies, crisps, caramel dips. The possibilities are practically endless. You can’t wait to get home with this treasure!

You stare at the bushel for a long time and finally select an apple. Excitedly, you slice it open — and your heart falls in dismay. The core is rotten.

You select another. And another. Each time, the same result. Not a single good apple in the entire bushel. Even worse, a call to the orchard confirms the awful truth: Every tree infested. None of the fruit edible.

What will the owner do? The infestation cannot be cured. A pit will be dug and tractors uproot every tree. The worthless fruit and every corrupt tree will be burned. The old soil will be turned and freshened with new. Seedlings will be planted. With careful attention, the new orchard will bear good fruit. Painful sacrifice must be made, and years of hard work lie ahead. But, in time, everyone once again will enjoy the delights of a bountiful harvest: delicious, juicy Goldens, Braeburns, Fujis, Honey Crisps, Granny Smiths, and Arkansas Blacks.

But first, a pit, an uprooting, and a blazing fire. It requires a crew willing to take on the hard task, make the sacrifice, and patiently invest in a new orchard and fruit they cannot yet see, much less enjoy.

Don’t ask what I mean: “Is this about politics or religion? Both?” Either you can see and hear — or you can’t. If you can, you know what needs to be done. And it needs to be done now. Step up. Bring an axe.

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