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Our Country Will Never Be the Same Again: Curing a Divided America

OUR COUNTRY WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN: CURING A DIVIDED AMERICA

Unlike the irritating clichés of our recent political campaigning, I think that there is some accuracy to the recognition that Trump’s election signals a turning point for American culture. It has significantly blown up both major political parties, and has created the possibility of identifying and debating the true differences between the ends of our political spectrum. After we get through the current gloating and hysteria, and see that Trump is not going to relegate all women to concubines, and that the left will not firebomb Wall Street, there lies the opportunity to examine the differences in our body politic, that have been rarely discussed and genuinely debated.

I think that both the Left and the Right each have four belief systems that have rarely been looked at cogently, and which underlie the animosity that separates them. These are beliefs that have their roots in cultures that are dead or dying, and, consequently, have become ripe for re-examination. If you don’t believe this, take a yellow pad and pen, sit down one evening in front of your TV, and write down the content of every ad that would never have been aired ten years ago, let alone 25 – 30 years ago.

These are the following belief systems that modified, or abandoned, could lead to a rapprochement between our seemingly polarized political climate

On The Right:

  1. End its refusal to recognize that a strong sense of “values” can emanate from a secular view of culture and behavior. (Those for whom established religions don’t resonate, can lead a life underpinned by a clear, strong sense of values.)
  2. Give up its messianic fervor to convert everyone to a religious perspective on life. (What could be a helpful message is often lost in an overpowering delivery that often creates defensiveness, instead of receptivity.)
  3. Stop solely equating intimacy and commitment with traditional institutions, and recognize that deep, lifelong commitments can be at the heart of many kinds of relationships. (The institution, itself, does not create deep and abiding caring, love and fidelity.)
  4. Stop confusing style with values, leading to a dismissal of people who act differently, as having no value or worth. (One of the most significant challenges of our increasingly multicultural society, is to be able to look beyond and beneath ostensible behavior.)

On The Left:

  1. Need to learn the value of disappointment and its role in maturation and success. (Disappointment is a vote of confidence. We are only disappointed is people who we believe can do better and be better.)
  2. Understand the connection between accountability and caring. (Requiring people to keep their commitments brings safety, security, and genuine concern to others. Lack of accountability is a form of abandonment.)
  3. Understand the essential connection between risk and competition, on the one hand; and the creation of opportunities for everyone, on the other hand. (Loss is the essential prerequisite for learning and growth. Trying to protect against it, or mitigate its impact, creates mediocrity and chronic failure.)

What I’m suggesting may seem, on the surface, a Herculean task, but its imperative to keep in mind that the combination of information and technology has modified or brought down cultural icons and totems that we have always assumed would rule our lives forever. In our time, nothing is immune from critiquing and questioning.

Morrie Shechtman

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