Divided We Stand, Together We Fall

The United States has its priorities out of whack, its government a mess, and its social ground divisive. This article from The Week, a news magazine that I frequently read, summed it up fairly well.

It’s unfortunate, too. When the writer, Damon Linker, says that the United States is “a great nation,” I agree with that. We have a lot of potential. We’re not perfect, or even remotely close to it–I wouldn’t go nearly that far–but if we sorted out our division and set priorities straight, we could do a lot alongside the other fantastic nations in the world. Denmark, Germany, Mexico, Canada, New Zealand, just to name a few.

Sure, everyone has problems. I’m not saying that those nations are free of internal problems. I won’t romanticize this and say “I wish I was there because they have perfect life.”

But when we’ve come to focus on who-said-what, what the latest trend is, and how we can get even with those that insulted us on some meaningless social media site, it’s more than disappointing. It’s downright depressing.

Now, I won’t get all “pity us” on you, dear reader. I don’t want pity. I want changes to be made. I wish Banksy, the English political graffiti artist, would make some more trips across the pond. I don’t care to find out what he looks like. I just want him to bring more coverage of the issues we’re having so people can turn off their iPod’s for a second and think about what we’ve caused. What we’ve done to each other for pride and gain.

The focus is on which cabinet member is going to quit next, rather than the homelessness of veterans (and other folks–everybody should have a place to live). As Julian Castro, the former Housing and Urban Development secretary was quoted in this article, “We owe our veterans more than to stop progress simply because people change seats in Washington.”

By no means am I saying that I think everything would have been automatically fixed if Democrats retained the presidential seat. This is bigger than party. Both sides are responsible for this divisiveness.

Rosa Clemente, writer for PBS News Hour, states in her article:

A key difference between Hillary and Donald Trump is that despite Trump’s rhetoric, Hillary has strong and deep ties to the corporate and military industrial complex. She has a skilled propaganda machine … [and] the funders and tools of war and economic suppression.

Neither side is completely innocent.

However, there is still hope in the future for a less divisive social life. The politics will remain heated; I have no doubt in that. Taking greed out of the equation for a second, people want to push legislation through that they feel will help the most people, that they think is the best bet for that moment.

The problem lies in gridlock. You’re either one side or the other, they say. There’s no middle ground.

That’s not how it should be. For example, you can be fiscally conservative but socially progressive. You can feel that taxes cuts aren’t helping anyone, but put forth stronger incentives for people to donate to social causes and programs that help more people. Contributing to struggling schools, helping the unemployed find work, etc. You know, taking care of your neighbors the genuine way.

This is a strange phenomenon in our current atmosphere. But if you question everything, you see what I’m talking about. All sides are subject to constructive criticism.

A two-party system isn’t helpful for taking care of the problems we have. The current system takes care of the ruling party’s personal desires and disregards neighbors that happen to be think differently.

“Because if they think different, they’re wrong.”

No. Just no. This kind of thinking helps precisely… no one.

The penultimate sentence in Clemente’s article poses a thought provoking question.

[W]hat if we could imagine and fight for a true democracy built upon the foundations of racial, economic, gender and social justice — a democracy that values humanity over profits?

Alienating people that think differently, feeling that they have nothing constructive to say, does nothing but harm our education and the nation’s growth.

So go talk to someone that thinks differently, but not to argue. Find some common ground. You’ll see that you’re not so different after all, and maybe the divisions can be wiped away. Everyone wants a better world; it’s just the path we disagree on.

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