Conflicting ideologies between people in society are pretty much a given, but America seems to be at the forefront of this as well. The American Civil war ended 155 years ago, and it would seem that we are still feeling the echoes of that terrible conflict in a way. Although now, in 2020, we’re not killing each other with muskets and bayonets, we are definitely at odds with one another, as can be clearly seen in the tense political battle occurring between the liberal left and the conservative right. Perhaps the worst part of this “war” of ideologies, is that it doesn’t allow for either side to see the other side as correct in any way. If you’re a liberal, a conservative person cannot make a good point ever, and vice versa if you’re on the right. For some reason, you must pick a side, and stand by it.
It’s not rocket science to see that this division has only harmed us in recent years. Here we are in the midst of a pandemic and more social unrest and instead of working as a whole to tackle these issues, we stand largely divided. Someone thinking rationally might say that since we have had experience with these things in the past, we should of course learn from that past; that if we tried, we would see the similarities in our present situation to the difficulties faced by our American ancestors, and that by doing so would realize that yes, we can ascend out of the hardships we find ourselves steeped in if we work together. Somehow, we’ve done the exact opposite, and allowed ourselves to become divided on things that shouldn’t even have opposing sides. Instead of simply wearing a mask to protect the immunocompromised and elderly, there are those among us who couldn’t care less about masking up because it is a slight inconvenience to them. Instead of listening and empathizing with people of color when they say they don’t feel safe in their own communities, there are those among us that plug their ears to drown these pleas for help out, because it doesn’t affect them directly. In short, it would seem that not only have many Americans forgotten the importance of working together, they’ve also become much more selfish; a truly terrifying combination.
Maybe the most frustrating thing about this development in the American psyche, is that it’s nearly impossible to pinpoint the root cause of it. Many will point at President Trump, and he has certainly fanned the flames of contempt in this country. But Trump is just a symptom (albeit a very corrosive one) of our entire ill political system. The money in politics is an issue as well, because it allows for more corruption in lawmaking, which in turn makes societal change more difficult. And as easy as it is to point the finger at our politics, the people themselves are also at fault. Our overabundant social media use has certainly contributed to narrowing peoples’ worldview, and the easily digestible cable news networks have lead to millions of Americans not thinking for themselves, as people would rather be told what to think by these various biased news outlets instead of actually doing research into a topic or event. Overall, the problem is a many headed beast; a foul mixture of opportunistic politicians, selfish Americans, and a corrupt system that wants nothing more than to continue on as it has been.
Sadly, because the cause is so elusive, so is the solution. If there is one, the most obvious answer would be unity between people. It certainly cannot be an American people divided by skin color, or by religious or political leanings. The only hope for the longevity of the U.S. is a people who stand as one, fighting for what is right and for the good of all Americans, not just the 1% at the top. But if this is the solution, then how do we get there? Surely there must be something that can band us together? Something that makes us say “progress can only be achieved if we stop focusing on the minor differences that divide us and start focusing on the ways in which we are similar. Only then can we really begin working towards a better future for our children and beyond.” Unfortunately, we have yet to find such a commonality to unite us. If only it were obvious to everyone that a twig on its own will snap with ease, but a bundle of sticks together makes it so that few if any will break. An urgent lesson to learn indeed, because the weight of the world is only going to get heavier, and sooner or later, we will fall divided if we can’t stand united.