The coming schism

On June 16, 1858, 162 years ago next week, President Lincoln gave his famous "A House Divided" speech after his Republican nomination for the Senate.

We are now far into the fifth year, since a policy was initiated, with the avowed object, and confident promise, of putting an end to slavery agitation. Under the operation of that policy, that agitation has not only not ceased, but has constantly augmented. In my opinion, it will not cease, until a crisis shall have been reached, and passed. A house divided against itself cannot stand.

Lincoln was of course correct in his prediction of a coming crisis, and 162 years later, we may be in the same situation.

It would be reckless to claim that the divides then were much more severe than they are now.  Yes, slavery was a contentious issue that dominated many aspects of American thought and politics.  But today, we face a myriad of issues that have been ingrained into the American psyche, and a gulf between the left and right that is impossible to imagine bridging.

Take the protests and rioting that have gripped the nation for two weeks.  We witnessed a small but very influential group of people who were sympathizing, condoning, and even in some cases encouraging the complete mayhem and chaos on our streets.  How can we compromise or have a debate with such thinking?  When it comes to criminals vandalizing property, looting, committing arson, and assaulting and murdering innocent civilians, there is nothing to compromise or debate over.

The word "influential" above is very important.  These are not just random everyday citizens offering radical opinions.  These are politicians on the national stage, Hollywood celebrities, and media figures.  In other words, they are the people who create bills and policies, and decide what will be on TV, in the movie theaters and newspapers, and on nearly all of the most popular websites.

This goes beyond the recent riots, however.  Many of these same people are also insisting that we adopt ideas that are far-fetched in mild cases, and downright insane in others.  J.K. Rowling has found herself in hot water for simply making the correct, factual observation that men cannot have periods.  This was a heinous crime, however, since an entire political wing in this country has adopted that very idea.

This is the same party that celebrates the murder of the unborn, that believes that every country on Earth besides the United States can have borders, and that believes now that the police are unnecessary and should be abolished.

How do we bridge these divides?  These are non-negotiable issues.  Men cannot become women.  A fetus is not a tumor-like clump of cells; he is a human being.  A country requires borders for cohesion and security.  A civilized society needs law enforcement to keep from slipping into anarchy (the entire world recently received a lesson in this, or at least, most of the world.)

It seems we have come to the point where the left and right are living in completely separate realities.

Are there any possible solutions?  As a nation, we may have to have some serious discussions about the future of our United States.  Can we all continue living in the same country?  Every day, this is looking less likely.  A thinking person can already see future strife.  If Derek Chauvin and his fellow officers walk (which is entirely possible, given that the Minneapolis D.A. overcharged them), the riots and looting will begin anew, and most likely with increased intensity.  If President Trump is re-elected in November, there will be more unrest in the streets.

In order to have a united country, everyone has to be united around something.  What do we have in common?  Saying, "We all live within the same borders" isn't enough, especially since those borders are almost nonexistent anyway.  Anything else?  Well, we all enjoy consuming.  We all like going out and buying things.  Is that it?  Is that all we have in common?  Not only is that utterly pathetic, but it is the handwriting on the wall.

In Lincoln's day, there were obvious divides in the country.  But Americans then, no matter their opinions on slavery, still had a sense of shared values and what it meant to be an American.  Even as the two armies met on the battlefield, they still respected each other as human beings.  This is a concept that is utterly foreign to America today, and whether that means we split apart violently or amicably, our house is being torn down before our eyes.  We cannot stay inside.

Image credit: Wikipedia, public domain.