OPINION — You can worry about ISIS all you want. You can build an impenetrable wall all the way around the United States to keep whatever group you care to discriminate against out. You can fund all the ridiculous defense programs you wish.
But, none of those measures will do a thing to stop the most dangerous confrontation the United States is engaged in at the moment: the culture war that is raging within the nation’s borders.
As treacherous as this ISIS bunch may seem, it does not stand a snowball’s chance of toppling the United States.
While it could disrupt things with threats and sporadic outbursts of violence, it is, in reality, not a force capable of endangering the essence of the United States.
Murderous? Of course.
But, the U.S. can endure through anything ISIS could throw at it.
This cultural war, however, poses a serious threat, much amplified over issues of cultural ignorance we have already endured.
We have grown evermore separatist, less embracing or tolerant of our many differences and the palette of diversity that is the core of the United States.
As a result, the United States is more culturally split than it was during the Civil War.
Don’t think so?
Look back at the social media platforms and really read some of the posts since the shootings in San Bernardino, California. Search the Internet and look at the wild, irresponsible reporting and dangerous opinions being spewed by legitimate and niche-driven media outlets.
Dare to seek the truth. Look beyond the propaganda we are being bombarded with as we collectively gather to bury our dead who are gone for no good reason.
While technically the San Bernardino shootings may be considered an act of terrorism, the reality is these were a couple of ISIS sympathizers, guerilla wannabes, a couple of psychos who were armed to the teeth and working independently. Even ISIS leaders, who are eager to claim any attack against the U.S. as theirs, have said the two killers were nothing more than “supporters” of the cause.
The husband and wife who killed 14 and injured 21 others in San Bernardino succeeded, of course, in taking innocent lives.
But, they also succeeded in widening the gaps between us.
In the immediate aftermath of this tragedy, what happened?
We started pointing fingers.
It was the fault of liberals. It was the fault of conservatives. It was the fault of Muslims. It was the fault of Christians. It was blamed on ISIS, al-Qaeda, the NRA, the president and, indirectly, you and me, because why not?
Instead of looking for the real reasons, reasonable solutions or, for the love of all that is precious to us, mourning the dead and the injured, we took to name calling and placing blame.
This is nothing new.
Look at how vicious and ugly the sides have become in this fledgling presidential race. There’s no real debate, no discussion, just anger.
Anger leads to divisiveness, divisiveness leads to separation, separation leads to collapse.
Societally, this is a dangerous path.
We have seen that, of course, with obstructionism that has been the payback of a political party that is so staunch in its opposition to the sitting president that it is willing to risk the nation’s security, economic stability and world standing to recapture the White House.
We see it on the other side with a gutless roster of elected officials who are more concerned with preserving their jobs than engaging in statesmanship to find the right path.
And, we see it in the special interest groups that pour money into a Congress that promises to fulfill the needs of Corporate America rather than those of the citizens who depend on the government for security, order and the nonexistent concept of leadership.
More importantly, however, we have become an embittered nation where it has become easier to give in to anger, easier to lay blame on somebody because of their color or religion, easier to hide lazily behind a political ideology rather than explore or study possible alternatives.
This doesn’t mean we should water down our beliefs and wallow in the muck of compromise, where nobody wins. We need hard and passionate discussion, but discussion without rancor. Then, an absolution of differences and a unified stand behind the prevailing decision, rather than continued bickering and chipping away at the other side.
In his final public speech, Patrick Henry said: “United we stand, divided we fall. Let us not split into factions which must destroy that union upon which our existence hangs.”
The concept of unity, by the way, was not new to Henry or that era.
Aesop wrote of the dangers of a house divided in his fable “The Four Oxen and The Lion” and Mark 3:25, in the New Testament, states: “And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”
So the concept is nothing new. It’s the practice that seems to have escaped us.
In the past, the United States was able to overcome the differences, to persevere in the interest of a nation with resolve, purpose, a desire to seek a harmonious resolution to its differences. Now that resolve, purpose and desire is aimed at maligning the opposition, leaving scars on its soul, dismembering the various ideologies that once were the essential fabric of a democratic nation that, even after its most tenacious debates, was able to find itself and come together despite its differences.
It’s not all Obama’s fault, it’s not all Bush’s fault, nor Clinton’s, Reagan’s or anybody else you can dredge up as a scapegoat for the things that have impacted our nation negatively.
It is ours for not making it work, for not taking the precepts of a constantly evolving, freedom-loving nation and applying them instead of drawing lines in the sand that are impossible to erase.
And that will do more to harm to the United States than all of the forces of ISIS, al-Qaeda and the others who would challenge our way of life, put together.
Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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