If you think you are living in a divided America, it’s nothing new

Whether in marriage, friendship, or work, it is often difficult to remember the good when difficulties arise (Image: wildpixel/Stock Images).

We are the United States of America. At least, that is who we have always claimed to be.

But are we? Have we ever been?

Considering where we are today, and the state of our public discourse, it begs the questions.

The brazen and hateful divisions playing out in almost every aspect of American life did not just suddenly come about.

Despite our fractured and factious states, we have always managed to rise above them, and preserve the things we hold in common and, therefore, keep America.

But why do we seem so far apart today, and will our pulling in opposite directions ultimately sink us?

No doubt we have been treading turbulent waters in major areas of American life.

Many of us have become pandemic weary during the last two years, having to endure social restrictions, unwelcome mandates, vaccine confusion, all levels of illness, loss of jobs and businesses, and, of course, more than 900,000 COVID deaths.

We could add that we are battered, tired and worn down by what seems to be entrenched partisan dysfunction in government at nearly every level in a way we have not seen in recent history, with no apparent end in sight.

Then there is the age-old and endemic malady of racial intolerance and racial violence, occurring in the most unsuspecting places for reasons that remind us that we still have not found a lasting cure.

These health, political and social headwinds are further compounded by an economy that seems to defy stability and predictability, straining our ability to budget and meet today’s needs let alone plan for the future — fueling the separation and dog-eat-dog behavior among us.

But these conditions and forces weighing on us as Americans are not new. So, why does it seem the nation is in a more vulnerable state than ever?

While many of us may be experiencing some of these forces for the first time, we would do well to remember that many of our family members, and generations before us have gone through similar storms in this country, and some would argue even worse. Read more

Two decades after 9-11, it’s hard to identify the values that unite Americans

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Just two weeks ago, we paused to remember those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001, as the unthinkable happened: America was attacked by a foreign enemy on its own soil. In the aftermath, amid the horrid loss of life, the pierced veil of safety once thought impenetrable, the fear and uncertainty about what was ahead, Americans seemingly became one.

Back then, in spoken and unspoken ways, the values that we held dear as Americans took over in a way that was palpable. We wore our unity on our sleeves. We rallied around those values that unite us — patriotism, our democratic institutions, freedom and protection of our collective well-being.

Fast forward to today, 20 years later, where has that sense of unity gone?

What seminal events have brought out the worse in our behavior where we often choose, unabashedly, baseness over valiance ? When did it start?

The years immediately following 9/11 we were united in spirit and actions to fight against the threat of terrorism to preserve our way of life. But while we were preventing foreign terrorists from attacking us, home grown terrorists were organizing in our midst.

Our politics was not filled with virulent rancor as we have today. Compromise was still possible between the two political parties. Peddling lies and declaring fake news as real news had not become a central part of the public discourse.

Little did we know that so many Americans would accept and fall victim to the lies that have rolled and continued to roll off the lips of leaders, and that the use of distorted news from many media outlets and voices would become commonplace.

Also, wedged between the unity that occurred after 9/11 and the crippling divisiveness of today was the election of America’s first black president.

On the surface that was a ray of hope. Many saw the election of President Barack Obama as America moving into a post-racial era.

Oh boy, were we wrong.

Since Obama’s election in 2008, race relations have deteriorated and many Americans believe that the gains made over decades have been lost.

Even though Obama was elected for a second term, partisan politics in Congress worsened, with Republicans openly expressing that their goal was to defeat whatever Obama proposed. Most times, they succeeded.

Meanwhile, all across America, more disunity was brewing and gaining a foothold fueled by lies and conspiracy theories. Read more