“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”- Abraham Lincoln
By Melissa Anderson
Abraham Lincoln spoke those words 159 years ago during his acceptance speech for the Republican ticket for the U.S. Senate during the election of 1858 to 1,000 delegates of the Republican State Convention in Springfield, Illinois. Lincoln would ultimately lose that election to Democratic candidate Stephen A. Douglas.
It was this speech, however, that historians and many of the time feel set the stage for Lincoln to become President of the United States as he sought to unite the states under one mind in regards to the issue of abolishing slavery. Many saw the forthcoming Civil War and knew that the current path of division would expediate the process.
The American Civil War occurred just 85 years after the colonies declared their independence from Great Britain. The Civil War ended 152 years ago. You may be wondering why I bring the time span up. I bring it up because throughout history there has been a repetitive pattern of nations undergoing major changes every 200 years or so. While the Civil War occurred much sooner than the 200 year time frame there have still been massive upheavals in American culture since then.
The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s for example, occurred roughly 63 years ago. That isn’t even a lifetime ago, but the effects and the photographs still bring strong emotional responses to those who witnessed it, those who lived through it, and those who study it.
During these events the United States of America was a divided nation. This division could be seen in just about every area from politics to entertainment, right down to conversations held in small town coffee shops.
America is, once again, a divided nation with the rift that started under the second Bush administration. The division can be traced back to shortly after the September 11 attacks that lead to the War on Terror in Afghanistan and then continued with Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.
Some Americans began to question what their government was telling them. Others were stalwart in their support. It’s only taken 14 years, but Americans have gone from a having a crack in society to a giant chasm that seems impossible to bring back together again. Efforts by the current administration to govern are met consistently with backlash as they have done nothing but stumble through the first eight months.
I don’t blame the staff in the White House for the current situation. Nor do I place total blame on the man who was elected to be the 45th President of the United States of America, although his Twitter antics and speak first, think later tactic has not helped in the least.
I don’t really blame anyone for the current divide that is separating the American population culturally, politically, and economically. I just wonder how long before the chasm becomes so deep that we once again find ourselves facing a civil war. How different that war will be in the 21st century as many are comfortable with verbal attacks and threats of violence. Those that are comfortable with physical violence will also rise up to defend their deeply held beliefs and at that time where will we throw the blame to? – the media who helped shape the outcome of the recent election? the politicians who are supporting this division by their continued partisan politics? the activists, the entertainment industry, the immigrants, the intellectually disabled, people with different colored skin, kittens, puppies, babies etc. etc. etc.?
The number of scapegoats is endless, but really, we have only ourselves to blame for losing the ability to have civil discussions, use critical thinking skills, and most importantly have empathy for those with differing opinions.