One of our favorite national stories tells us we come together in times of crisis. It’s a good story, and often true even if not always true. It rings most consistently true when the crisis comes from outside. From attacks like we suffered at Pearl Harbor and on 9-11. But what about when the attack is nearly invisible, and it brings about division itself as the crisis? That’s what we face now, a national division manufactured by—and certainly amplified by—the efforts of Russia. Other countries fan the flames, but Russia bears most of the blame.
In his recent book, Battlegrounds, retired Lieutenant General and former National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster explains how the Russians under Putin have fomented division in the United States (and other countries, also). He explains it at length, without political bias, and better than I can. I encourage anyone who wants a better understanding of our current national crisis of division to read General McMaster’s book. Whether people read it or not, I encourage everyone to consider how we can overcome the divisiveness that pervades American society right now.
My strongest recommendation for achieving reconciliation is for everyone to swear off broad, blanket statements about groups of people. I’m not asking for people to like everyone, or even to like anyone. I’m simply encouraging people to exert the effort required to understand individual points of view; consider that to the person expressing the view, it has some validity; and seek an understanding of the common ground you might share with that person, regardless of their viewpoint.
I read a comment on Facebook today in which an acquaintance said, “My problem now is that I truly have no respect for people who vote for the #$%@% party (name withheld, because it could be either one) and all that they stand for. Never thought I would feel this strongly but I do.”
Well, that is a problem, and not just for that person. It’s a problem for all of us. It’s exactly the attitude the Russians delight in reading. We will never achieve this country’s potential for strength, social health, and individual wellbeing if attitudes like that persist. The Russians will see to it. If that statement represents your current attitude toward Americans with political views that differ from your own, then you are supporting the Russians and the weak America they are working to ensure, not the strong America you think you’re supporting.
As this year winds down, encourage people to treat each other as individuals, worthy of respect, and discourage the practice of painting entire groups of Americans with a broad brush.
Thank you for reading this far. And Merry Christmas.