I am lying here in bed, recovering from some mysterious illness (probably some kind of influenza virus), and pondering the Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) as unconstitutional. At this point, it has not been released yet, they will probably take a pass on deciding Proposition 8 (allowing for same sex marriage). Has our country ever been so divided? Historically the answer is yes, actually many times. Two periods readily come to mind: The Civil War and the social revolt of the 1960’s which encompassed the Civil Rights movement and the anti-Vietnam War movement with numerous attendant issues of the day.
It is the nature of our free society. It is what makes our country great. It is what makes our country so damn frustrating. There is rarely consensus amongst us as a people. Only when united against a common enemy do we ever seem to come together and agree. We have been the beacon of hope for millions around the globe, but our light is beginning to dim. Since the fall of the Berlin wall and the dissolution of the former Soviet Union we have been The Superpower. That distinction will end soon as Russia rebuilds its military and political might, and China quietly buys up most of the world and becomes The economic Superpower. Both of these countries are totalitarian in nature, and lightyears behind us in human rights.
While we cannibalize ourselves back home, they both gain strength through relatively efficient and likeminded governments. After all, when you have a centralized thought process, combined with an effective means to quash all dissent instantly, you end up with a well oiled military machine capable of almost anything. They are no longer afraid of us. When the Obama administration all but demanded that each country, in its turn, arrest and return Edward Snowden to the United States to face prosecution for espionage they both said no. We’ve renounced their decisions with inflammable rhetoric and totally empty threats (there is nothing we can do) in actuality. Personally I am a defender of Edward Snowden; I think he did what he did for patriotic reasons, but like most whistleblowers he will pay a price. In the interim, however, we run the risk of him becoming a dupe of the Chinese or Russians for political gain. At the very least the rest of the world sees that: the King has no clothes.
I believe the United States is once again in the throes of social upheaval (and this may not be a bad thing). Will it turn violent? Possibly. It did during the Civil War and the protests of the 1960’s. Once again, the ability to conduct civil discourse between our warring parties seems to elude us. We are reduced to vicious sound bites, mindless rhetoric, emotional versus logical rants, gross manipulation by puppeteers and spin-meisters—more time is spent stirring the pot than letting the meal simmer. Why? I think the answer is self-evident: Money. Conflict is profitable. But it’s only profitable for a few; the rest of us suffer the costly consequences.
I am going to take a HUGE risk. I am going to discuss some of the most divisive issues of our time. I am going to share my thinking on the issues, historically and currently. I am going to share with you what I currently believe and why. This blog has an extremely varied readership, kind of like the global citizenry it represents, and there is bound to be significant disagreement amongst many of you relative to my comments and points of view. I invite your comments and criticism. I even welcome them. There is only one rule, but it is non-negotiable: Keep it civil. I monitor all comments, and will delete any comment that violates this rule. I will not delete for content, I will only delete for tone. There will be no personal attacks or rants against my readership or commenters. Make your argument, state your case, but be civil and respectful in tone. I know that I risk alienating and losing some of my readerhip, but I trust you my friends. I want to demonstrate that people with significantly differing points of view can still come together and dialogue successfully, an art our elected officials seem to have forgotten. To my friends in other countries: This is how the United States of America is supposed to work.