We are bombarded daily of late with reports of the divisions within our nation. A real US versus THEM mentality that harbors many alleged dreadful results. Maybe there is some truth to that and maybe it is another example of historical bias–meaning that each generation thinks that whatever is going on right now is the most important event(s) and most momentous of all time. Each generation thinks we have never seen or experienced anything like it before. Let’s think about that and what might be at least one root cause of the current divisions.
The strongest binders of any society are its religion, language and culture. Culture being the art, literature, social mores and conventions that are mostly accepted by a large majority and a feeling that we are indeed connected in a fundamental way with those we consider our fellow citizens. No thinking being expects complete agreement on all the issues of the day. Three Southern Baptist Deacons will reach five different opinions on the policy for tithing collection after all. In the 1930’s we faced tremendous differences about the direction of the country. There were many who really disliked Roosevelt and his big government policies and likewise there were legions that thought he was terrific. His popularity was not nearly as big as you would think reading the paeans to him these days when he is mentioned. He also could be a very vicious and attacking politician and spewed vitriol on his political opponents constantly.
In the last half of the 20th century we were able to form a consensus on many large issues and when we couldn’t the losing side would begrudgingly accept the democratic outcome. We had the big matters still in some harmony– language, religion and a loose but still defined “American” culture. Also we had the unique benefit of so many millions of men having gone through the same experience–WWII. Veterans of the War played an outsized role in our politics for at least two generations after the War. No matter their political differences they knew that they people there were negotiating with on the on side of the political spectrum had gone through the same or similar events as they had. They had all gone to boot camp, lived together, fought and believed they were doing something worthwhile for their country.
I really did not like McGovern’s big government approach and what I considered socialistic tendencies. But I could never forget that during the War he was a B-17 bomber pilot. Our boys had a distinct American culture they brought with them around the world on land and sea and the air. That culture prevailed in the War. If you don’t think our culture was distinct then ask some of the surviving Brits about out boys over there. We had the same language and mostly religion but we were definitely American. The Brits believed we were “overfed, overpaid and over there”.
I sure ain’t wishing for WWIII but I do worry about the loss of a commonality as a people. We have become very segmented over the last 30 years or so. It concerns me that we are losing that cultural glue that binds us as one nation.
Maybe it is just us old guys with too much time on our hands and no audience that will pay attention to us anymore. Just want my grandkids to have a country that will seek, search, dare, have moral fiber and a very strong sense of right and wrong. Everything is not morally equivalent.
Time for some more reading and learning. I have found that even a not so good history book will always have a few nuggets worth knowing.
Someone blow out the candle.
God Bless, olcranky