While I’ve been taking a little break from panicking about the state of our divided country here in the USA, people have not stopped fomenting divisiveness at every opportunity. It’s starting to bug me more and more. I have a radical suggestion.
If we just focused our energy and money on improving the lives of our citizens instead of punishing people we disagree with, we might just make things actually BETTER.
Crazy, right? I got to thinking about it, because a Patriot friend of mine (yes, I have Patriot friends) posted a long article by Dennis Prager saying how scary things are because the Left is taking away all the freedoms of people on the Right. I’m not going to quote him, but it’s worth reading before you read more of my thoughts.
I read the whole thing, because I think it’s important to make an effort to understand where folks are coming from. What struck me most was this:
If I substituted left-leaning examples and fears for the right-leaning examples and fears, I could have written this.
Our divided society is divided, for the most part, because whoever’s content we read is designed to make us fear our neighbors, believe they are untrustworthy an out to get us, and constantly lie to us. Two examples:
- The article by Prager says how afraid Patriots are to admit they planned to vote for their candidate, and whispered about it at work. Oddly, here in Milam County, a huge percentage of homes and ranches had (and still have) flags, signs, and hand-made items proclaiming their allegiance to that candidate, while I can remember ONE sign for the other candidate. Hmmm. Seems we both had reason to not mention our leanings (other than the fact that the workplace is one of those places where it’s not great to talk politics). That fear had to come from somewhere.
- I watch, read, and listen to news from left-leaning sources, like NPR and the BBC. But, during the elections and inauguration period, I watched a lot of CNN coverage, because it was the one that disgusted my household the least. By just stepping outside my personal prejudices a little bit, I could easily see how the reporting was designed to get us upset. You couldn’t miss the soundbites about how one candidate spread “lies” and “untrue” information and downplayed anything more reasonable he might have said. I can tell when I’m being manipulated.
The question that has been running through my head, in I guess my own personal conspiracy theory, is who’s benefiting from all this sowing of discord and promotion of us versus them thinking? Who wins by taking advantage of the undeniable human impulse to come up with reasons to make the out-group appear terrible (which, apparently, a long time ago, kept people from spreading diseases (from Sway, the book I’m reading and from Behave, which told me how this stuff works in our brains)).
- Somebody made a shit-ton of money selling those omnipresent T**** signs.
- Somebody’s making a lot of money off guns and ammo sales.
- Somebody’s profiting from all those masks us pro-vaccinators are buying.
- Whoever owns these highly factional news outlets must be raking it in.
- I could go on, but I think you get my drift.
People are spending so much of their valuable money, time, and energy on hating each other these days! The rich one one side are spending $4,000 a plate for fundraisers for politicians outside their state. The rich on the other side are doing exactly the same thing. That amount of money, given locally, could help people struggling from the consequences of the pandemic, help working parents find child care so they can work from home and not go crazy, or house the homeless. I hear the message that my conservative friends don’t want there to be government handouts. Government handouts would not be necessary if people helped each other, like Jesus tells them to.
I’ve heard it said many times that there’s a grain of truth in every rumor or speculation. What if we stepped back and set aside the hyperbole to find the truth in the fears and concerns of all the people in the US? What if we looked from another perspective? What would happen?
When I try to do this, it’s hard. We have been ingrained with our partisan beliefs our whole lives, and they are what bind us to our “team” and make us feel special and a part of the family of believers. I’m no different. But I am willing to give it a try. I know we have much in common, like loving our families, wanting meaningful work, and not wanting to go hungry. We’re all committed to our faith journeys, however different they are (that includes you, atheists).
What would happen if we told those people, corporations, or other faceless entities who are profiting from keeping us at each other’s throats to go shove it? Would we be able to finally figure out what the motives of the profit-makers really are? Would it entail ALL of us struggling and failing? It might.
I hesitate to write this kind of kumbaya content, because I know I’ll hear back, “But those other guys did THIS!” and “Those awful people are doing THAT to me!” and “They’re just EVIL, I tell you!”
Newsflash: there are misguided and dangerous people in every single group you could name. There are also people who are just trying to live their lives and have been influenced by different sources of information. What we NEED are more people on all sides who are willing to step aside and look at the big picture.
That’s the team I want to join.
6 thoughts on “Controversial Unity Crap Again”
I really hear what you are saying. It reminded me of something else I read about ants. Red ants and black ants are natural enemies. If you put red ants and black ants in a jar together, they will each cluster on their own side and will not attack each other, but if you give the jar a shake, they go at each other until there are no survivors. So the real question isn’t, “what side are you on?” it’s “who is shaking the jar?” And as much as I defend the free press, it seems clear to me that news is no longer meant to be just informative. News is designed to keep us watching, boost their ratings, bring in the advertising dollars. News (and other media) uses the stick and carrot approach to keep us tuned in. They hit us with the disaster, hit us with the terrible, the tragic, the dangerous which creates anxiety and then they offer us the carrot of information, plans and people to combat the terrible, tragic, dangerous which is rewarding and also keeps us watching/listening/reading to see if actually works. Because of this, I strongly support the return to a recrafted Fairness Doctrine which was ended through the efforts of the Reagan administration. We need to bring the Canadian standard to any program that claims to be news. Their standard states that you can only report verifiable facts and opinions have to be presented as only opinions. Will this solve the entire mess, no it won’t, but it will be a part of the solution. We also need to teach critical thinking skills in our schools and promote a culture of questioning. The information explosion is amazing but it has a dark side as well. It is too easy to only look for and find information that confirms your bias. All information needs to be questioned and we all need to be aware of fueling our own confirmation biases. And more to your point, if we just started addressing what each side feels is harming them, we might actually get somewhere. An example, there are those that still oppose integration efforts in school, bussing kids to diversify. Some people feel that this lowers the educational experience that their child might receive. We should address this fear, instead of just telling people they are racist to think this. We should highlight the fact that SAT scores have increased for ALL students in schools that are integrated. There is much proof that integration is actually beneficial to white students as well as poc students. We should shine the light on this information. There will always be deplorables in any camp that can’t/won’t be reached, but so many more people are reachable, if we just meet them where they are.
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Thank you for taking the time to read and respond. I knew you’d have a helpful perspective.
Greetings from the UK. I enjoyed reading this post and I think you are spot on with your analysis; when wondering why conflict is prolonged so much, the answer can be found in the money. Trump flags, guns, ad revenue, etc. etc. But of course, stupid feeds that, and stupid gonna stupid. The “faceless entities who are profiting from keeping us at each other’s throats”, are all about stoking the hatred, never quashing it. Here in the UK it’s the likes of Daily Mail or The Sun newspapers; there you have Fox News. I became a bit addicted to CNN during the coverage of your election and Trump’s downfall, then of course the Capitol riots. I found myself checking Fox, too, to spot the imbalance and the bias. The BBC tries hard to be impartial but their strings are always pulled by the UK government, and they always hold back from the line which needs to be crossed. When you say “What we NEED are more people on all sides who are willing to step aside and look at the big picture. That’s the team I want to join.”, I whole heartedly agree with your sentiment there. I think the team in question is Centrism, rational, liberal but also skeptical and factual. It’s a devastating gap in politics on both sides of the Atlantic right now. Stay safe, take care.
Thank you, Owen. I’m glad I read a lot of UK blogs, because I do see how much we have in common with the divisiveness. And I have to agree with your team definition. I get so confused by the folks who adamantly defy facts and rationality.
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