A HOUSE DIVIDED
On June 16, 1858 then Senate nominee Abraham Lincoln gave that speech at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield. A speech that, among others, was to become a unifying factor in what was a fractured nation. It took the bloodshed and death of hundreds of thousands of mothers and fathers, of sisters and brothers, of aunts and uncles for this nation to realize the process of healing needed to begin. And the only way to do this was to drop the pretense of hatred and separatism and begin to find ways the people were similar rather than different.
Since that time this nation has ebbed and flowed between the policies of separatism and unification. Seemingly, policies of unification have taken place during periods of what could be thought of as severe crises. The most notable of these crises being WWI, The Great Depression, WWII, and the Cold War. Even though there were separatist factions during these crises events took place that would become rallying cries for the people to voice themselves as a majority faction to support unifying actions. That is not to say all issues of separatism had vanished. There was still rampant racism, gender inequality, religious fractionalizing, economic inequality of access, and poverty that still haunted the American landscape. But the overriding issue of war and survival had a psychological effect in the population to momentarily postpone but not eliminate these issues for policies of unification.
One of the major causes for this unification was the people’s trust in their government and the perception by this government that the people’s voice and strength were the driving force behind the republic. Now I must stress the word perception by the people towards their government as the underlying factor for unification in time of great need and crises.
The perception began to change greatly during the Cold War. The Bay of Pigs caused the people to question the path and correctness of government policies. The Cuban Missile Crisis was a divisive factor separating the people. Fear of an all encompassing holocaust launched by the U.S.S.R. through their satellite country Cuba led this nation to become circumspect as to the type of weaponry being invented, tested and possibly utilized by the two world powers. But conversely the action y the U.S.S.R. sending Sputnik into space caused the U.S. government to re-evaluate its position in the space race. Hence President Kennedy’s declaration of putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade became a rallying cry of unification.
But then the inclusion of the Vietnam War, the war taking place in the Civil Rights Movement, the advent of the Women’s rights and Gay rights movements and the Sexual Revolution caused a split in the American population. Couple this with the perceived lies told by McNamara and Westmoreland about the definite victory that would be achieved in Vietnam and putting a halt to the Domino Theory and the Red Menace gave cause for the American people to question the validity and honesty of their government s never before. Jumping on the bandwagon of discontent the media fed the new revolution what they wished to see while lining their own corporate pockets with increased ratings shares.
Heightening this to further extremes was Watergate. This was the event that tore and connection of trust between increasing factions of people and the American government. People started to question and investigate every action this government was taking which led to the beginnings of two extreme groups. One that supported literally every action of the government and the other became an obstructionist faction wiling to block any government action. Again I must stress the word perceive in this piece.
After a while the opposing factions became so ingrained in their core beliefs that facts and trust became irrelevant. Minor unification factors did develop in the United States post Watergate. Gas shortages and the Iran hostage crisis became temporary rallying cries. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the fall of Communism in the U.S.S.R. also ranked high to bring the people together.
But then we turned inwardly and the devices for separatism came to the forefront once more. This was acutely evident during the impeachment proceedings of President Clinton. Post Clinton era the attack on 911 was a major unifying factor in the United States albeit brif. Since then this nation has become so factionalized and fractures that it is unrecognizable to its foundation. Reason and diplomacy have gone by the wayside leaving the people anf the rest of the world to question the validity of this nation. The pull back into a nationalist and isolationist nation is in direct opposition of an economic system that has become interwoven and global.
History has taught us that wars both domestic and international lead to chaos and ruin. Secrets lead to lies and lies lead to mistrust which is the antithesis of peace, balance and harmony in the world. What is needed now is leadership to say to the world come to the tale and talk about our similarities and differences in an open, honest and transparent manner. Waiting for the next catastrophe to unify the people is no longer an option as punitive measures lead to disastrous results. Where that leader is one only knows because for the time being any such person or group that had the courage to hold the banner will be dismantled, discredited and destroyed. So look in the mirror all you extremists as you take your last breath in a world you have hastened to destroy. The time is rapidly approaching when your cloak of lies and deceit will be exposed. The people will look through your perception of deception and the divided house will become whole on a solid foundation of honesty, balance, trust and compassion.