Our country was developed as a democratic republic by people who were both eclectic and wise. They examined the governing structures of current and past empires and extracted the best elements while excluding the obvious problems. One of the basic tenets of our society is that it was developed around the people rather than a monarch or governing body. The people were to determine the direction of the country and possessed the ability to change it if they were not satisfied.
Historically, when major changes of direction have occurred on a national level in other countries, oftentimes significant turmoil and bloodshed resulted. In America, however, we have had a tradition of peaceful transition of power – even after tumultuous election seasons.
In more recent years, we have allowed the purveyors of division and hatred to create such animosity between the two major parties that many friendships have been lost and a sense of camaraderie has virtually disappeared from Congress and the other branches of government. This severely damages our ability to accomplish things for the benefit of the people, even though both parties may be desirous of such an outcome. Perhaps a parable is illustrative of our situation today:
A hungry traveler was roaming through the countryside in a poverty-stricken country where the people were starving. He entered the town center where the people were complaining about having nothing to eat and stated that he had a magic rock that could create wonderfully nutritious and delicious soup that would feed the entire village for days. At first the people were very skeptical, but he said all he needed was a large pot with boiling water. This was supplied and he threw the rock in as the crowd gathered to watch the spectacle. He dipped in the ladle and tasted the soup and exclaimed with excitement that it was delicious, but it needed a little salt and pepper.
The traveler asked if anyone could supply a little bit of salt and pepper and a volunteer came forth with those ingredients. After tasting it again, he exclaimed “this is fantastic, but it needs some carrots.” Another bystander supplied carrots, and the traveler continued with this ritual until the people provided potatoes, beans, onions, tomatoes, celery, cheese and some meat. The village had a feast and a celebration, and more importantly they learned to work together, sharing resources to solve their problems.
What can we learn from this story?
We have some very significant problems in the United States that affect the entire population. We also are blessed with some brilliant minds on both sides of the political aisle who, by coming together, have the potential to create solutions that work for all of us. It does not mean that they have to agree about everything; in fact, it is natural for people to disagree because we all come from different places and have different experiences that inform our personal philosophies.
I frequently say, “If two people agree about everything, one of them is not necessary.” The world would be very boring if we all agreed about everything. Maturity, however, dictates that disagreements do not have to degenerate into name-calling, violent demonstrations, or attempts to destroy the livelihood of other people. What we must learn to do is engage in civil discourse about our differences. In most cases, we will find that we agree on many more things than we disagree. For instance, we all want good healthcare for everyone, but we must learn to provide it in a way that doesn’t disadvantage one group while advantaging another. If we think about our future rather than our feelings, we are more likely to find mutually satisfactory solutions to our problems.
“United we stand, divided we fall.” “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” There are reasons why these well-known phrases have persisted over the centuries. It is essential that we, as Americans, recognize that our strength lies in our unity and that those who are trying to divide us are our enemies, even though they portray themselves as great humanitarians and the source of all wisdom. We can either keep hating and fighting like depraved creatures or we can call upon our heritage of faith and integrity to exhibit kindness, compassion and rational thought processes as we create an atmosphere that facilitates the pursuit of happiness for us all.
From personal experience, I know that it is much easier to be nice to people and to cooperate with them when seeking solutions than it is to seek revenge and attempt to prove superiority. Sometimes our solutions don’t work, but if we are wise we will learn from those situations and thereby enhance the possibility of success with the next attempt. It is not necessary to be hateful to those who advocated the initial solutions that did not work. Instead, we should embrace them and take advantage of the learning curve they have acquired. We must realize that we are all in the same boat, and if part of the boat sinks, the rest is going down also.
If anyone can think of a reason why we should not come together, I would love to hear it.