A Nation Divided Won’t be Divided by Me
When the time for war comes, broader society wages war. Some people armor up and go to the front lines, others enlist as spies, others strategize, and others protest. Some stay silent on the sidelines and just keep doing what they do. When we see conflict on the horizon, we know it’s easier, cheaper, and healthier to avoid it. But how?
Current war strategies are not what we are taught in history books, and most people don’t give a hoot about foreign policy. However, now is a good time to take a look at what’s happened abroad to get a better sense of what, exactly, is at stake for our Country. What is happening here is not unique. You can do your own research, but to sum it up, many countries are strategically divided by outside forces from within their own country.
Isolated terror attacks are not news to me. Children were mass murdered from my high school. I have worked in US schools located in neighborhoods classified as war zones.
I was in these areas as a personal commitment to the idea of service. I did the job no one else respected or wanted. I chose to be a substitute teacher in some of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago. I had to learn how to navigate without weapons in order to survive.
The way war is waged among countries, or white collar groups is not too different than the way war is waged on the street. The divisiveness, the superficial and temporal allies, mocking people who fall into what others consider an obvious trap, all seem standard practice.
That is where we are at at a nation today. On a macro-level there is obvious tension between many groups within our nation. Yet if I open my windows, or as I go about my life and listen, there actually is no acute conflict in process. yes, arguments maybe, but generally not conflict that will leave deliberate, lasting scars on communities.
Broadly speaking, we are being mislead to use our own fears to create enemies where there are none. We are divided by news, social media, and other outlets that are not face to face. If we listen we do not hear this divisiveness in our daily lives.
Consider this: most of the talk about how others want to harm me is from people who agree with me. I always go straight to the source. If my friends are telling me who my enemies are, who has the power? Who has the truth? My friends have the power. The truth might be anywhere. How can I check for truth?
When we interact with people with different views than ours, usually there is peace. At worst, an uncomfortable conversation, — but there is still peace. The discomfort is within. The discomfort is about someone thinking I’m wrong, or thinks the source of my values, such as my religion, is wrong. Closely linked to that, there may be a fear they might try to hurt me. They may hurt me because they disagree with me, they may hurt me because I’m Muslim, they may hurt me because I’m Christian.
This fear of being hurt can be verbal, or by passing legislation that forces us to pay a few dollars a year towards a cause with which we disagree. I may worry that if I do not fight it, a higher power will judge and punish me.
That is the extent of any personal threat. If we look over history and in our neighborhoods, we are all too busy living our own lives to really feel a need to pick these fights in a way that actually brings acute harm to another. When we start to feel a need to take non-peaceful protest, when we feel we need to yell and argue with strangers over values that weren’t a problem two weeks ago or two years ago, we should ask why.
If I didn’t care what someone else believed before, why do I care now? If their choices make no difference in my personal life, why do I take their lifestyle choices personally?
A look at foreign affairs can inform us. It is possible that we are being mislead by covert, quiet, clever, and strategic leaders to target our anger at false targets. When we amp it up, we have to consider to who and why we are giving our power away. We have all seen a childhood trick of making someone innocent look guilty. This frame of mind does not disappear as we age.
Regardless of which candidate you supported in the 2016 election, we all can agree that Trump won because people wanted change. There is debate about exactly WHO wanted the change, but either way, deception and fraud is part of the equation.
We know it is possible to be deceived by those in power. We may also know those with power can be manipulated by their aids and assistants. None of us are so naive to think power does not corrupt even if power doesn’t corrupt everyone. Still, how do we know the difference?
We are being confused by having major policies being unveiled at a rate that is impossible to accommodate. And as a result, we as individuals, our policy makers, activist groups, are becoming tired, disheveled and losing focus. We are confused by positions changing to polar opposites from one day to the next.
Allies and opponents of our current president alike are not sure where to place our focus or our efforts, what will come next, or who among our neighbors, friends, or colleagues, may choose any of the hundreds of highly loaded topics and attack us, or provoke us into attacking them.
Whatever side of the political divide you are on, it is easy to agree our communities and domestic tranquility are at stake. Resistance to destabilizing our communities must be the heart of our activities. Keep the peace with our communities and neighbors; people we actually interact with. This is where the “RESISTANCE” — however you understand it- is most important.
In a time of terrorist attacks sponsored or inspired by groups invisibly backed by governments, that which we need to protect most is our current relationships, friendships, communities and country. Destabilizing, unresolvable, you-should-live/think-the-way-I do arguments among the people we interact with on a daily basis plays into the ultimate goal: destabilize our friendships, families, communities, our country and precipitates infighting.
Similarly; openly doubting our Intelligence Community, freely undermining the democratic process, opposing our Constitutional right to disagree with our President, silencing those exercising their Constitutional right to publish dissenting views, all are undermining the essence of our Country.
The worst of these offenses is the effect on citizens view of each other. Who can I trust? Who is going to verbally attack me? Will someone physically attack me for views I hold? Or worse, views they think I hold?
What to do?
Like a toddler throwing a tantrum, you ignore. You draw attention to the things which you know you must accomplish. You vote. You call your elected officials. You try, without losing focus of your personal priorities and goals, to bring some calm to the group. Some people will choose to fight. Letting them fight it out is not a failure on your part. Letting them have peace is also not a personal failure. Letting them have views or policies which you oppose is not a personal failure. Contributing to destabilizing our communities and our country is the ultimate failure.
Loyalty and trust are earned. Know your allies. Know their limits. Trust them accordingly.
Be slow in trusting your sources of information. Be wary of friends instigating a fight and dragging you into it. Letting someone help when emotions are amped up is a risky thing. Letting someone help resolve a routine dispute can be a threat to yourself and community. Be sure you listen to reputable sources, who have the effect of stabilizing, not destabilizing communities. Knowing the difference is tricky when any change seems to destabilize. Try to see a few years or even decades down the road, is the overall impact of this going to increase or decrease health, arguing, fighting, etc in my community? If there is an adverse impact on my community, will there be a reasonable way to make needed changes? Sometimes, ignoring people, or letting them know, “It’s not your business” is the refined response of someone who knows how to navigate a situation where loyalties and change can be leveraged to destabilize a community.
Double check your sources info. I like to do this with sources who are likely to disagree. If there is some shred of similarity, some shred of truth, some echo of half full vs. half empty, then I trust there is substance.
People disagreeing with me is not a threat to me or my community. I’m sure we have all loved and lived with someone who we had long standing disagreements with: maybe about whether bananas should be refrigerated or not. The threat is confusion, destabilization, and turning people against each other. Knowing this, I move forward. I try to listen to people who disagree with me. I am slow to give trust. I don’t give blind trust. It is not different views that are a threat. Having and expressing different views are a Constitutional right.
To preserve domestic tranquility, to preserve the superiority of the USA, to preserve our soft power, our humanitarian leadership, each of us needs to take responsibility to not destabilize our communities. People who are different than us is a founding principle or our great country. Let people different than you live their lives in peace. If they are destabilizing your community, call them out on it with every resource you have, including law enforcement. They put their lives on the line in the communities they work. They want your community to be safe too. I for one, will not contribute to destabilizing my community or country. I will not sit idle, I may choose to appear silent after reporting suspicious behavior to authorities, I will not engage divisive disputes. If our country becomes more divided, you should not have any part in it. I won’t.