Home > Ideas and Opinions > The Great ‘Divorce’ of American Society

The Great ‘Divorce’ of American Society

This is the rough draft of what will soon be published in The Purple Gem. I will eventually have a blog on the Purple Gem website that corresponds to my column, currently titled “Points to Ponder.” This is soon to change as well, for that title seems far too frivolous for the kind of subject matter I’ll be dealing with. But for now I’ll post it here, and hopefully get some good feedback.

Oh, yes, and excuse the typos, if there are any. I was in a bit of a rush when I typed this up.

Inspiration often comes to me from unusual places. And while music is recognized by many as a means to stimulate thought, it is more often Mozart that comes to mind as a source of inspiration than it is heavy metal. Yet that is where the idea for this commentary was born–in the rumble of drums and the rise and fall of angry voices. The one song that in particular sparked this idea was “Sad Statue” by System of a Down. There is one line, nestled within the tempest of sound, that really caught my attention: “You and me will all go down in history with a sad Statue of Liberty and a generation that didn’t agree.” And how true. Ours, it seems, is the most divided generation yet to have walked this Earth, and as time slips steadily into the future, the chasms that separate us seem only to widen.

The ideal America, or the dream of it, has been gradually slipping through our fingers as we grasp at ways to undermine the beliefs of those whom we strongly disagree with. Yet so focused are we on our mudslinging and intransigent in our particular ideologies that the severity of the situation is often understated or even completely overlooked. And, all too often, those who see what is happening are either too apathetic to act on it, or feel that their efforts as individuals will make no headway against the sweeping tide of divisiveness. Because of such widespread inaction, it seems to me that the state of affairs in this nation will only continue to deteriorate.

The breeding ground of most of our problems, to put it in the simplest, broadest of terms, is intolerance. Often sparked by fear, and fueled by prejudices and stereotypes, intolerance in its various forms (of which there are many) has become the blight of our society, and flies in the face of the foundation of morals and ideals upon which this nation was built. America was meant to be a place of equality, a country in which people of a wide variety of beliefs and backgrounds could unite under a single creed.  But this wealth of diversity, while it has created a rich culture and promoted the exchange of ideas and opinions, has also led to so much conflict.

Intolerance has infiltrated so many aspects of our lives, from religion, to politics, to big social issues such as abortion and gay rights. Misconceptions and misunderstandings define the relationships between people of different faiths; non-believers are shunned–portrayed as malevolent, sinful dissenters. Both anti-abortion groups and their opponents employ violence to further their causes; gays have become the most persecuted demographic in the nation, and are frequently discriminated against. Liberals and conservatives squabble over petty disagreements; staunch Democrats and their equally steadfast Republican counterparts  refuse to compromise, choosing instead to throw insults at each other while policies remain gridlocked. And to think, our government was founded upon the principles of bargaining and compromise!

But the once flaming spirit of compromise had dwindled to a flickering spark. Americans have begun to gravitate towards the extremes of political ideologies, leaving behind a wasteland that was once a flourishing middle ground. The few who still inhabit the moderate middle are under constant pressure from both the far left and far right, who are unwavering in their efforts  to draw them from their positions on the fence and recruit them to their ranks of followers….

That’s all, folks (at least for now). I think I’m going to make this a two-part series. I’ve dealt with animosity and intolerance in the public arena, and my next goal is to look at the same sort of divisions that exist in people’s private lives (like the growing divorce rate, for example).

Tell me what you think.

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