The Dangers of Divisiveness

The American Civil War divided the country with disastrous results: Americans pitted against other Americans in battle and the massive loss of 620,000 American lives. The country was divided over the racist institution of slavery. If we are not careful, history could repeat itself.

In the 1960s the country was divided over the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement. Many Americans were firmly against the Vietnam War while others believed it was necessary. Families and friends were torn apart over the difference in beliefs. The Civil Rights Movement divided Americans over race and the rights of all Americans regardless of race. There was a decided difference in approaches to the battle for civil rights. Those against giving black Americans their full rights as citizens resorted to violence while those who marched for their freedom pursued non-violent means to demand their rights.

Today, our country is deeply divided over class, racism, women’s rights, immigration law and many other policies, as well as a deep division over our current President and his policies.

Most Americans see those on the other side of the political spectrum as evil, as wrong, as dangerous. This is a serious problem for our country.

The news is a near constant avalanche of shocking, disturbing actions and statements by the Administration and Congress, by random shooters, by politicians and individual Americans. The fighting and conflict across the country and in the news is disturbing. Many people, in an effort to protect their mental health, have chosen to tune out what is happening.

We cannot afford to do that.

Others are at the forefront of the battle for the soul of America. Both sides in this divided country believe they are right and they vilify the other side, they call people on the other side insulting names and question their intelligence and character.

The country is divided into Us versus Them. On the left side of the debate are Democrats, liberals, and those most affected by the rhetoric and actions of the Right. On the Right are those who believe that they are moving the country in the right direction and that harsh actions are necessary to stop the moral decline of the country. There is no middle ground.

At the basis of these divisions are differences in religious beliefs, attitudes toward race and immigration, attitudes regarding war and gun rights, women’s rights, gender equality, global warming, and the preservation of the planet for future generations among many other issues.

Both sides demonize the “other.” In issues of race and immigration, there are attempts to dehumanize groups such as immigrants and certain races, especially blacks in order to justify police violence and mistreatment against them. Immigrants are targeted for character defamation and the denial of their legal and human rights. Personal rights for owning guns are prioritized over the rights to safety for schoolchildren and the American public.

The Right demonizes the Left and the Left demonizes the Right. There is no civil discussion of differences. There is no true debate of the issues. Instead there are flame wars and trolls on Facebook and other social media. There is false information spread through opinionated news outlets aimed at riling up one half of the population against the other half.

Many Americans have begun to view other Americans as their enemy. There are threats that violence will break out if Congressional Democrats use their legal right to hold impeachment hearings against the President. In fact, the President has hinted at armed rebellion if he is impeached.

There have been attacks and attempted attacks against politicians of both parties.

We should be worried. This is not the way America should operate.

Americans must come together and have reasonable discussions of their differences without name-calling and personal attacks. Instead of Us against Them, we must see our fellow citizens as one regardless of political persuasion, race, religion, or class. We must seek a middle ground. We should not force our beliefs on others. We must not resort to violence.

We are supposed to be a model of democracy for the rest of the world. Let us come together and unite in making our country safe for all, free for all, and home for all. Let us treat each other with respect regardless of political differences.

… we have a small favour to ask.

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