“We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all corners of the globe. We weaken it when we hide behind walls, rather than tear them down, when we doubt the power of our ideals, rather than trust them to be the great force for change they’ve always been.” — Sen. John McCain (2018)
The United States of America can sometimes feel like the Divided States of America.
Historically, we are not amateurs when in comes to deep-seated differences. One example is the Civil War.
Sen. John McCain’s final words to the nation, released after his death on Aug. 25, 2018, warned how this division weakens our greatness.
Demonizing people or groups we don’t agree with throws fuel on the fire and often devolves into name calling and gross generalizations. Media outlets, bloggers and online conspiracy theorists that deal in identity politics make their daily bread by doing just that. The line between propaganda and real news has become blurred for many Americans.
This divisiveness opened the door for Russian operatives during the last presidential election. A number of Facebook ads and posts, released by the House Intelligence Committee, show how the Russians targeted people by interests, political leanings and other traits to exploit divisions in American society on hot-button issues.
Russia’s effort to confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries was an outside attempt to weaken our greatness.
It doesn’t have to be this way. It is possible to take a different path.
“We have always had so much more in common with each other than in disagreement,” said McCain in his final words to the nation.
Let’s not stoop to personal insults over our differences. It is possible to not agree with someone’s opinions and still treat them with respect. Heck, it may even be possible like them as a person.
Keeping an open mind and relying on credible news sources are two ways to encourage both civility and a united country.