On June 16, 1858, a future President Abraham Lincoln said "A house divided against itself cannot stand." In that speech, he was addressing the national divide over the issue of slavery. An issue clung to feverishly and passionately by a vocal group of primarily Southern Democrats. It was a division which facilitated the creation of the Republican Party which opposed and fought to end the vile institution of slavery.
I ask your: Are we any closer today than we were in 1858 to having political and social agreement as to what is best for our nation and her citizens? Political opinions flame the passions of our neighbors. Jealousy and envy encourage anger and hate not only against our true world enemies, but against ourselves. People are drawn as so many flies to a dying corpse to social media and "news" sites to feast on anger and hate.
This anger spreads as hate into the very fabric of our local institutions. Recently, a local school board meeting erupted over discussions on how to best protect our children and our community. Across the nation, city council and county commission meetings have devolved into fist fights. In at least one place, a local property assessor was shot by a city manager who was upset over a property valuation. We see and hear these things, and we then look for someone to blame, right?
The root cause there is so much anger and hate is because it's profitable. I bet you chose to read this article because something in the title struck an emotional hot button. You can admit that. We all do it. Advertisers, news producers and media publishers know this as well. A bigger audience means more money! Unbiased journalism, if it ever really existed, is dead. Learning about issues is too time-consuming, so we read the cliff notes via muckraking "info-tainment" disguised as "news broadcasts."
According to PEW Research, "most Republicans and Democrats believe that few – or no – good ideas come from the other party. Only 17% of Republicans say that the Democratic Party has “a lot” or “some” good ideas” and only 13% of Democrats say this about the Republican Party. In fact, nearly half in both parties say the other has almost no good ideas." Pew Research
At the local level, we cannot afford to hate our neighbors. We must sever the ties to the angry politics of division and hate. We must learn to value differing opinions. Social media can breed and foster the worst in people. It's too easy to fire off an angry "tweet," "meme" or "post."
They may be random bullets of hate that can do unintended harm to others. We may not be able to control a great deal of what happens to us in the world, but we can choose not to hate and not to hurt one another. We are only here for a short time. Let's not waste it.