The Division Bell

An old acquaintance of mine wrote on that screed of the uninformed, Facebook, that “the Obamas divided us.” That really struck me that as per usual for such statements, no evidence was offered as to how this was done.

Donald Trump didn’t divide us. Despite his attempts to actually do so, Mitch McConnell didn’t do so either. The media hasn’t divided us. Social media isn’t guilty. The Pandemic (which, I don’t know who needs to hear this, ISN’T OVER) isn’t even guilty.

It seems to me that the division has always been bubbling underneath and the trick has always been to be able to overcome that, instead of blaming anything and taking responsibility. When George Floyd was murdered, a lot of well-meaning people hopped online with quotes from Martin Luther King. That’s a nice thought I’ll grant you, but as a few folks I know pointed out, he wasn’t the only black man to turn a phrase. I keep thinking of James Baldwin and his writings of the idea of America, the promise of America, praising those things while contrasting them with the reality of America, that the social contract isn’t the same for all its citizens.

Mr. Baldwin was absolutely correct. People of color are and have been marginalized. It isn’t anything new.

I think while on the leadership side, things took a turn during the battles between President Clinton and Newt Gingrich, along with the rise of Fox News. Through court cases deciding the 2000 election, the tea partiers, Mitch McConnell’s well documented edict to block anything President Obama sent to the senate to President Trump’s screaming law and order in every medium all the while flouting the laws he is not above and is supposed to abide by, but doesn’t.

Now, as the Boss once said, “Blind Faith in anything, in your leaders, in anything, will get you killed.” But it seems we are at a point that power (without it even being absolute) corrupts absolutely. People like Jeff Flake and Susan Collins warned that the President probably should not be engaged in certain activities. Yet despite being in positions to put stops on those things, they refused to do.

While the President didn’t create the divide between parties, between science and luddites, between races, between media and audiences, he manages to exploit them to his benefit as our collective attention span doesn’t drill down for details.

We used to be thinkers, well-informed instead of seekers of our preferred narrative. But the President cut through regulation to slash spending – there are people who yell “great” as that does sound good, until some of the regulations kept our water clean, protected land, fed children and maintained offices for the study of infectious disease and pandemics. That last one might come in handy during the course of this year.

Instead everybody is blaming. He’s taking a victory lap over blocking flights from China, ignoring that Italy was fighting the same thing and Italy is a lot closer to New York all the while lambasting the W.H.O. and the C.D.C. and a litany of experts in the field because they aren’t telling him what they want to hear. He is more interested in golf than fighting Covid. Remember all the GOP senators in a dither (incorrectly) about Benghazi. Apparently when the numbers get to high we no longer keep score when you get past 180, 000.

But that is another blog post that I already wrote.

Division…a facebook poster I know a little bit objected to NFL players putting messages about needed social change and victims of police violence on their helmets, complaining that we were no longer “one”. If it was worth it (and that’s a big if) to wade into a Facebook argument, I’d point out that the likelihood is that we’ve never been “one,” that we’ve talked about it, but we have never delivered on that promise. Those for whom “:one” has been talked of, but really weren’t included. That “oneness” is the goal, but it hasn’t been the case. To make that transition, to bring about that “oneness” requires an acknowledgement that we haven’t been truly there, that the circle needed everybody and throughout our history, it has been closed off to too many.

The promise sounds great, but the execution has been flawed and enough people aren’t silently accepting that anymore as well they shouldn’t. The thing has never really worked, but to get there isn’t insurmountable. For everybody who screams All Lives Matter, they should stop and realize that the whole point is that that is a nice goal, but it hasn’t been proven true and that not all lives are treated like that. That’s what this is all about. We’re not dividing, just never been completely united.

In reading some posts and feeds this weekend, I again saw a poster blaming social media instead of advocating taking responsibility for what he posts. Another decried that when Herman Cain passed, Cain was accorded the reverence afforded to Ruth Bader Ginsberg. I have no idea about what drew that gentleman to that conclusion, but Facebook didn’t make him stupid, he apparently already was that dumb. Justice Ginsberg was a committed advocate for making the world a better place, to serving the people even ones who didn’t agree with her. Cain smiled as he dove into a petri dish of Covid 19 to later catch Covid 19.

This thing of ours remains a great blueprint, but it isn’t working for all. People are  left behind, marginalized, shunned, attacked, killed and we shouldn’t be okay with any of that as it has been going on long before there was any social media to cry “where’s the media” on. People are still searching for that preferred narrative and social media didn’t cause that, just capitalizes on that.

I think the my way or highway schism on the political spectrum has its roots in Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton and has been spiraling out of control ever since and everybody has the keyboard to spout from and when confronted by actual issues, it is easier to hide keyboard-eque (he said from behind a keyboard, but hey I admit it). The buddha of my youth and midage once opined about how blind faith can get you killed.

Same source offered up this truism, Nobody wins unless everybody wins. And that means everybody.

He’s right in both instances. I still remain convinced that if we place the energy in spouting off with making the tent bigger and all-inclusive, realizing that we are all people who need each other, nothing is impossible.

 

 

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