BY THORNTON BLOUNT (7/19/16)
In recent months, I’ve been struggling to come to terms with the state of the Union. To be clear, I’m not referring to the address made by the President annually, rather I’m referring to the actual condition of this country’s political culture. Being at the RNC this week, an incessant four-day rally centered around promoting and celebrating partisanship, is not helping my ailment. Yet, to be clear, if I was in Philadelphia right now and the Democratic convention was scheduled first in the order of the two – I wouldn’t be feeling any better.
It would be naive to say that the country today is more divided than it’s ever been, but it wouldn’t be exaggerative to claim that it’s certainly close. This profoundly disturbs me because – more than any of my complicated and passionate beliefs or convictions or policy concerns, even those that are nuanced and personal and dramatic – I care about America, I care about its unity, and I care about its progress. And of the latter two aspects – I’ve seen very little lately.
2016 is an election cycle unlike any other. It’s filled with more divisiveness, hatred, fear mongering, and dishonesty than any election before. It’s hard to point any fingers because while the candidates, politicians, and media surely feed the public these sentiments, it is the public’s responsibility to combat them and come to their own rational conclusions and is thus complicit in the crisis. Documentations of the abuses of the former group, and petitions to remedy them, are endless. Dysfunctionality is deeply entrenched in those institutions, and their inertia is tangible. Change comes to them at a crawling speed. So therefore, this article is targeted at the latter group – the American people.
America: please, I beg for you to appeal to your rationality and your humanity. The state of this union as a union is weak. Return to the community-orientedness that defines this nation, and reopen your hearts and minds to the differing opinions and conditions of others. Regardless of your political persuasion, all Americans share the values centered around community and harmonious interpersonal relations. This article is not targeted at any one group or political leaning because we are all guilty. Consciously and unconsciously, the Democrats have become arrogant, impulsive, and condescending, and Republicans have reverted to ignorance and selfishness. All of these different characteristics have committed to the catastrophic estrangement of the American people.
When we stop listening to one another, all we hear are repetitions of what we already know and believe. The only way to achieve progress as a nation is through compromise, and the only way to achieve compromise is through deep and constant dialogue. Yet, further, the reason we aren’t having such dialogue is because of hate. People constantly argue that it’s rather because of ignorance on behalf of their opponent. This isn’t necessarily false – but where proponents of this position are misled is in that this ignorance is not intentional; it’s systemically perpetuated by the national drought of dialogue, which is itself caused by the plague of hatred.
Nothing good has ever come of hatred. Ever. You can dispute every last word in this article, but that sentence is irrefutable. It has been scientifically and psychologically proven time and time again that when we fall into the rage that is fueled by hatred, our mind goes into a blinded frenzy in which we become selfish, irrational, and uncooperative. Not only are these horrible traits to act upon, but tese three characteristics are the most prominent impediments to compromise, and again: without compromise there will never be progress.
To witness the simultaneous reemergence of racism and white supremacy, and the elitist silencing of conservative dialogue has been discouraging to say the least. We need to change how we interact with one another, across the aisle, and across all aisles. I won’t give the commonplace suggestion of ‘Try Love’ because it’s too idealistic; but try listening – try patience – try optimism.
And lastly, try self research. This may seem like my oddest suggestion, but it is one of my most crucial. It is so easy to turn the news on and believe whatever the politicians and talking heads are saying – but challenge the facts and conclusions and assumptions that are being fed to us, and come upon your own. You will not only be surprised at how different your position may become after doing your own research, but how more informed you are about other news and policy debates.
“A house divided against itself can not stand.” – Abraham Lincoln
“If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” – Mark 3:25
At the end of the day, we have more in common than in difference as Americans. We watch the same TV shows, cheer for the same sports teams, and listen to the same music. Our culture is what matters most, not our politics – and although the former is usually invulnerable to the antics of the latter, our culture is synonymous to the state of our society – and the state of our society is weak. Let’s clean up the state of our society by promoting humility and dialogue and civility, thus ridding ourselves of the filthy divisions that we currently live with.
P.S – I’m using a pseudonym now, so huge thanks to namegenerator.biz for this one.