One year ago, the election of Donald Trump was a polarizing event. Love him. Hate him. Those are your two choices. There is no in-between. And the dividing line is more like a dividing chasm. There is no middle ground. Political discussions have become non-existent. Choose a side, hunker down, and don’t make any concessions. That’s the new rule of thumb from the people on the street all the way to the politicians in Washington. Push-and-Pull and Give-and-Take have been replaced with a resounding Hell-No from both sides of the political spectrum. Nothing can be accomplished when the art of the deal is met with a great wall.
The ever-expanding division in America is not limited to our politicians. There are confrontations in every part of society. We’ve lost our ability to politely disagree (or to do anything politely, it seems). If someone doesn’t share your point of view, they are immediately perceived as your enemy.
Last year’s election may not be completely to blame for all of the societal unrest bubbling to the surface, but it certainly stirred the pot. Social media has given everyone a voice, and the winner is he who shouts the loudest.
We survived the revolution of the turbulent 1960’s, when youthful protesters challenged “the establishment” and fought for changes in society that shape the world to this day. It wasn’t the same when today’s challengers of the status quo emerged. They identified themselves as “The 99%” and formed the Occupy Movement. It was time to reclaim what they were owed by the entitled 1% who control the majority of wealth in our country. The movement gave a voice to the first political cause in decades. However, the 99% was such a broad, fragmented group, they had trouble finding common ground amongst themselves. They couldn’t even designate a clear group leader. There was no spokesperson to represent them. Their actions alienated people in the middle who might have been sympathetic to their cause. Boston traffic is bad enough on a regular day without protesters trying to send a message by blocking roadways at rush hour.
Dividing lines have been drawn in all facets of our lives. Today those lines are deeper than ever. Across the country we’ve seen White Vs. Black, Citizens Vs. Police, Christians Vs. Muslims, Socialists Vs. Fascists, Rich Vs. Poor, Republicans Vs. Democrats, Millennials Vs. Baby Boomers, Men Vs. Women, Cats Vs. Dogs…and the list goes on.
One hundred and fifty years ago, America was a country at war with itself. We settled our differences on the battlefields between the North and the South. After the Civil War, we emerged as something better, something unified and whole. Our country flourished despite our differences. This new division people are feeling may not share the same outcome. We need to put our differences aside and come up with solutions before it’s too late.
Our country needs to put the past behind us and focus on the future. America needs to start healing from within. We can’t afford to wait until an event of cataclysmic proportions forces us to put our differences aside. Remember, we’re all in this together.