Have you ever been a part of a winning team? A team with a natural born-leader who works hard, and role players willingly play their position. Strong supporters on the sidelines. The win feels great because the root of the victory is based on teamwork, unity, and mutual trust.
Have you ever been a part of a pseudo-winning team? A team with many talented people who don’t work well together, but through their sheer will and competitiveness, they are winners. The win feels good, but discord is underneath the celebration. The root of the victory is fractured and hanging together by a thread.
So how long can a team win while fractured? Think Shaq and Kobe. Think Beatles. Or even Sonny and Cher.
This, my friends, is where I think America is.
Still one of the most powerful countries in the world, #winning, but our divisions are real. Have you ever stopped and considered how you are playing a role in the division? I know I have.
So the first question we must ask ourselves is, are we (America) really that divided?
A Pew Research poll, conducted after the 2020 election but before the Jan. 6th incident, highlights the division around our core values beyond just the political ones.
According to a poll, only about one-in-five Trump and Biden supporters say they share the same core American values and goals and look at the language used:
Not only do we have different priorities when it comes to politics, but we fundamentally disagree about core American values.
- 80% of Biden voters about Trump voters
- 77% of Trump voters about Biden voters
We have different priorities when it comes to politics but share a fundamental commitment to the same core American Values
- 18% of Biden voters about Trump voters
- 22% of Trump voters about Biden voters
How do you feel about the data? If it didn’t surprise you, it definitely surprised me and had me wanting to think about our division. Are we in danger? I grew up with the saying, “United We Stand, Divided We Fall,” because it is my home state’s official motto, and I found myself wanting to know its origins. The saying comes from the Aesop fable:
The Four Oxen and A Lion
A Lion used to prowl about a field in which Four Oxen used to dwell. Many a time, he tried to attack them; but whenever he came near, they turned their tails to one another so that whichever way he approached them, he was met by the horns of one of them. At last, however, they fell a-quarreling among themselves, and each went off to pasture alone in a separate corner of the field. Then the Lion attacked them one by one and soon made an end of all four.
So, America, if we go into our corners, the more dangerous it can be for us.
Why does this matter?
I believe most of us, if not all of us, at some point are contributing to the friction dividing this country culturally. Too many biases exist in the world, but we are responsible for trying our damnedest to build unity amongst our differences. What’s the point in living in the United States of America if you actively contribute to its division.
So how are we ALL contributing to this friction? (it’s okay if you ask me with some skepticism)
For starters, most of us can think of the loudest voices, the almost unbearable ones, no wait, some of the voices are unbearable, especially if you are diametrically opposed to their position. Their position of division. Their voice for the cause or cultural position is so loud that even people who agree with them find it piercing at times and are often unwilling to listen to anyone else. These folks are the #1 enemies of the State. Unfortunately, I don’t know the answer to broadening their perspective because I am not a miracle worker. The only responsibility is to not be that person. If your first inclination is to always think about someone else, don’t. We always believe the other side is bad, and on some issues, it really may be, but change takes work. Avoid angry conversations, but difficult ones might just be worth it.
Then we have the people with non-existent voices. Those who refuse to take a stand at all. I am not the only one who tires of seeing the quote, “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.” Some people are quiet to survive their family situation, but more times than not, they are apathetic because it’s easier to put your head in the sand and not stand for anything, in conversations or at the voting booth.
This might be an unpopular take, but I, like many people, wish everyone voted in America, but getting angry at someone who doesn’t vote is the wrong approach. There is always room for encouragement for the next time. I know some of you are reading these words, and seething inside, that there is no excuse, and you are not wrong, but getting angry about it isn’t going to help next time. Every interaction counts.
But if we were being honest, most of us are somewhere in the middle, passionate about a few things and other things we could quite frankly care less about. I found myself in this group; to some extent, it’s more balanced than the other two. Still, I found that I was avoiding particular conversations out of my comfort and not because I was going to have difficult conversations with the #1 enemy of the state type.
I was unwilling to find where I stood on particular issues, so when I asked about them, I could just avoid them altogether. This partially was because I am a Christian, and people in this country have a knack for misusing Christ to advance their own agenda.
I decided that it was vital for me to not be so lazy. To engage, not all the time, in conversations and read things that were not exactly what I felt or believed, so I could have a more accurate and balanced view, ripe to have a decent conversation.
Because at the end of the day, it’s not about where you stand. It’s about whether you are willing to listen or learn something you know nothing about. So agreement and winning are not always the goal. Listening, seriously listening, and engaging is the goal.
People get hyped about having “courageous conversations” or attending equity training every once in a while. You have to actually live life with people and interact with them. I know you may have a different walk of life or economic status, making it challenging but not impossible. If you can’t find a way to truly engage with people of another walk of life or perspective, how can you speak on their lives as a fact? That is a misguided opinion.
People often think opinions are based on experiences, but in its most accurate form, An opinion, a view, or judgment is formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.
We are responsible as citizens of this great nation to recognize that even America cannot withstand the growing division. With great power comes great responsibility. It’s not just about voting for what you think is best at this point. The team that wins is responsible to the team that loses, which is what we’ve forgotten.
“United we stand, divided we fall. Let us not split into factions which must destroy that union upon which our existence hangs.” – Patrick Henry.