It does not serve the United States well to have such a divided nation. Polarization makes for awkward and ineffective democracy. Self-righteousness can be a detriment to a free society. Egocentric politics serves one person and that can be a detriment to the many. Sometimes we have to get out of the way to make room for democratic sharing and consideration. The majority, in a democracy, does not stand ready to deny rights to a minority. In fact, majority decisions have been wrong many, many times; it is the cost of democracy. And that is why these gloating self-interest and insensitive pronouncements are ruining our nation.
Perhaps I'm naive enough to believe that finally getting Osama bin Laden can be a uniting factor in our nation's struggle to move beyond partisan self-interest. Why wouldn't every American feel this way? Because egocentricity and selfishness stand in the way. Too many of us cannot see beyond our nose. We do not understand democracy and democratic precepts. We think that if we can only get more people over to our side we are doing good for our nation. But sometimes what we think is correct can indeed be wrong. Sometimes selfishness and greed are in direct opposition to a nation that practices democracy.
Think of a pre-Civil War plantation owner. His entire life and livelihood is invested in his slave-owning business. It had been an accepted way to make an "honest" living for generations. Some of the staunchest Christian and Bible-toting preachers gave "ample" reason to justify slavery. If you were a white plantation owner in Georgia or Alabama you felt totally justified in owning another human being to make money. It was, after all, good ole American capitalism at work. And the vast majority of Southerners ageed with that. Any "democratic" vote in the South would have the majority supporting this way of doing business.
Or let's look at Germany in the 1930s. The majority of Germans voted in such a way that Adolf Hitler was voted in as Chancellor, the highest elected office in struggling "democratic" Germany.
Majorities in a democracy can be very wrong morally, ethically, politically, spiritually, etc. Majorites have historically often voted against their own self-interest or contrary to true democratic principles. This is why it is so very important that we protect the rights of the minority. Far too often we vote in our own self-interest and against the rights of others. This is why democracy is so difficult. But we are now in the midst of wallowing in our difficult period. It seems hopeless that we shall ever again reach consensus.
This is a time for soul-searching for every American. Our strong and partisan viewpoints are destroying us and our nation. In many ways, America is in decline. Compromise is needed. But compromise is extremely difficult or impossible for egocentric and self-indulgent people. But we are at a crossroads. Already we see that our children uniquely do not have the same hope now for a future better than their parents. We are strangling each other with polarized thinking. It is not compromise to say you want compromise and then immediately following that statement with a polarizing rant. Compromise means swallowing your pride. Compromise means seeing the other person's viewpoint. Compromise means tempering one's own strong opinions. Compromise is not surrender, but it is not strutting in the hope of victory over fellow citizens. Compromise means sharing, and not just with those we want to allow into our inner circle who agree with us. Compromise can get us out of our anchored-down stalemate.
Perhaps the successful operation to get Osama bin Laden could act as a springboard to Americans thinking more as one than as enemies. Whatever it takes. But for goodness sake, I don't want to go down with the ship just to prove a point as I am sinking. Let's be real. Let's be human. Let's be civilized. Let's be Americans. C'mon, extend a hand without emphasizing differences or gotchas. We move backward apart, and forward together. I want to move forward.