A Nation (or world) Divided...
Divisiveness, political, racial, religious and cultural has become such a platitude that it is now accepted as the deplorable but inevitable truth of the 21st Century. Driven in part by increasing diversity and where diversity is clustered, (the argument goes), it’s inevitable.
There’s the left and right coasts and there’s “fly over” country. There’s the haves and the have nots. There’s the “liberal” north and the “conservative” south and you can follow those socio-economic fissures by simply looking at the political breakdowns in those same regions and those facts all pretty much speak for themselves.
Moreover, the pundits are quick to tell us, this is not simply a U.S. phenomenon. It’s global and like the experiences we’re currently having here in our country, it’s happening for similar reasons, and for those similar reasons, it’s inevitable “over there,” just as it is “over here.” And those changes are catalysts of still more change.
But isn't it up to us?
It would be naive to claim that the contextual reality in which we find ourselves is an illusion. It isn’t. But at the philosophical level, there’s a problem with in my humble opinion. The hard core, self-appointed “realists” may feel obliged to disagree with me and that’s fine. By your very right to differ, if you’re comfortable with a paradigm that postulates conflict as inevitable, you can stop reading now, or if you’re so inclined, or feel free to read, dissent and comment accordingly.
But I wonder if we can agree, that conflict is a choice? Can we not disagree respectfully, without being disagreeable? Surely, somewhere between extremes of meta-ethical relativism and unyielding moral universalism there is a place where we can coexist? Irrespective of your preferred socio-political or economic model, can we not agree that what makes us alike is greater than what divides us? In the words of Rilke, living in another time of tectonic change:
“Seek out some simple and true feeling of what you have in common with them, which doesn’t necessarily have to alter when you yourself change again and again…”
Rainer Maria Rilke
Change is literally the lei motif of our age. At the personal level, it’s as individual as our fingerprint. More generally, our reaction to the changes around us But we defined in part by the form our change and that inevitable friction that disagreement takes. If you’re riled up and expostulating based on something you read on a website no one’s ever heard of or a FB post without links to the source, you’re probably being pulled to one extreme or the other. Honest men and women, even opinionated ones, aren’t ashamed of the sources upon which they base their opinions. The necessary accomplice of learning is perspective, often perspectives that do not dovetail with our own. That said, the ability of those perspectives to alter our own depend on verifiable, credible information.
We are one...
But beyond the formation of our opinions—hopefully the result of conscientious pursuit of truth—there is the fundamental truth underpinning all others, if we’re human. We are human and one. For better or worse, we are the dominant specie on this planet, collectively responsible for not only what we do, but for the outcome.
We are the stewards of our fate and the generations following us. I can’t imagine anyone with children not appreciating this and recognizing (if belatedly) that we do not inherit the Earth from our parents. We borrow it from our children.