…The issue is not whether or not we could get along, but whether or not we should.
Pundits had predicted that 2008 is a very contentious year. We have to narrow down the great divide instead of widening the gap into a yawning chasm of energy-consuming differences that throws the nation into the abyss of irreconcilable and catastrophic confrontation. That’s how the cannons of the Great Civil War were fired, and how we once upon a time marched down the prairie with a curse and a gun. We thought our differences could be resolved at the end of the barrel of the gun so in anger we pulled the trigger. We were wrong. Our animosity did not go away even as we buried our heroes at the sonorous sound of the trumpet for the dead. edwin a. sumcad 01/07/08
We are either in this side or that side of this great divide. And we are committed to the side we chose, which is why most often when we clash with opponents in public, our civility spins out of control. When it does, the outcome is ugly.
There is this rising hate-America contagion. Because of it, we are likely to lose the war whichever and wherever that is, in
Iraq, in the homeland or elsewhere, anywhere.
The challenge of the Conservatives is, if we cannot get along, divided, can we win the war in
Iraq? If we lose, will it mean another war against terror right here in the homeland with the combined forces of the Axis of Evil the world over?
It is fearsome to even think about it, more so if and when this comes to pass.
To which the Liberals respond with this agonizing possibility: Assuming that we win this war in
Iraq [which the Liberals and the radical left would like
America to believe we could not win], is the invasion of
The irreconcilability of their position is by itself, a declaration of war against the other side. For, once we retreat from
Iraq in total defeat through troop withdrawal which an elected Liberal president promises to do, the enemy led by
Iran will make
Iraq the base for their covert and overt operations against the
United States. This has been foretold in Congress, a scenario seen through the eyes of our intelligence community. This forces a declaration of war against
Iran and its allies, the enemy otherwise known as the Axis of Evil.
Thus in this great divide, both sides just jumped on each other, and lost their cool, their rationality. The rationalization of these concerns is perhaps too rational to be real that with fear and anger, it becomes irrational.
Humans are not rational but emotional according to many articles written by experts in this field of study. This is of course hard to believe. Reason separates us from the beast therefore there is no doubt that we are the only rational being that walks the earth.
Yet we are also very emotional beings. When we are very frightened or extremely agitated, we tend to be irrational. The beating of Rodney Glen King by
Los Angeles cops caught in video left an epic of this irrational human behavior. The convicted cops were said to be prompted by extreme anger or overwhelming fear for their safety. They lost control and became violent, resulting in the senseless beating of King almost to death right in front of the roving camera viewed by millions in national television during one of the nation’s worst riots that occurred in
Humanity of our fragile society is challenged by our inhumanity when we become too animalistic or when we turn extremely irrational in our unguarded moments of weakness.
In this most celebrated court trial of 1992, winning the case was not enough vindication. Winning friends was much more if as the Gospel teaches Christians the world over, we can just get along with one another.
How to win an argument and lose a friend is not what my message for this year 2008 is all about. What I am writing about is just the opposite. One may win a debate but lose a friend and in victory, grieve and cry, so to speak. For, attrition is discomfort, war is death, love is life; in this light, amity is my prescribed seasoning for life in 2008 and thereafter.
The thought of losing a friend is a terrible loneliness, and to some of us, it could be worse than death. Think of this everlastingly married Octogenarian couple who lived alone by themselves. They have only each other. One is the greatest and only friend in the world to the other. When one passed away, loneliness simply killed the other. It was a matter of about a couple of months, and to some just a matter of days ahead that since there seems to be no more reason to live, the other just follows the departing journey of the other to the great beyond.
This kind of loss is akin to losing a dream, like losing Mary Stevenson's footprints in the sand left by the Invisible that carried you on his shoulder when no one was there after you lost a fight, and you were down and out.
The litmus test to these axiomatic platitudes let alone divine truism that I have just introduced is when we as a nation quarrel over how we love or hate
America. Like what I wrote in other similar articles, the war in
Iraq relates to how we feel about Uncle Sam. We are ten feet tall from where we stand, whether we are for or against the war. The good thing about it is that if we lose the debate yet are able to smile and shake hands, there is hope.
The truth is, we cannot afford to be too radically villainous to one another to the point of self-destruction. From both sides of the great divide, we are just combatants of principles in our version of democracy, in our vision of freedom and liberty in this part of the globe.
But to a great extent, our passion when we argue whether or not our troops should come home, like the recent wildfire of San Diego, California, burns far and wide as if to cover to the last inch the breadth of the ever widening great divide.
Surprisingly, we are implausibly challenged by this elementary problem many of us hardly noticed: The art of civil and cordial argument is very hard to emulate and even harder to learn, especially if by nature one is too rabidly adversarial and incorrigibly opinionated at the same time, but contentious or amicable or distastefully unlikable, we are helplessly magnetized towards our dispute like how moths are attracted to the lamp, and it does not matter whether or not we get burned in the fire of public opinion.
In public debate, we tend to take pointed criticism as a personal offense. Most often than not, we end the argument with a shocking discovery that our differences are infinitesimal. This is definitely not good to one's rising blood pressure, and bad to the nerves of
America. Sociologist opined that it was not bitterness but neurosis and paranoia [fear of the unknown], which took the most out of the irreconcilable North and South differences before the rural folks, notably the farmers where politicized, who then left their homes and marched down the prairie with a curse and a gun. We frequently reminisce this bloody chapter of our nation’s history. The Great American Civil War had more than 600,000 fallen heroes on the take, whose blood drenched the battleground to unite a divided nation, and nourished the concept of a democracy under the government of the people, for the people and by the people.
As the exchange of views about America that we either love or hate detours towards personal hissing and drifts towards name-calling thus graduating into a slam-bang of personal animosity and hostility, the widening chasm of disagreement becomes an abyss that only then we realize that the South and North Poles are really not located in the same quadrant of planet Earth. How we alienate ourselves from each other that much not only incredibly astounded me but also extremely disturbed my calm, peace and quiet in this kind of virtual anarchism. When I think about it in my private moments by the fireplace, I gasp breathlessly, and when I saw myself in a haze of doubt and skepticism when I myself was a silent partisan in the controversy, my jaw simply dropped with utter disbelief. We go to school to learn the basic refinements of life, the art of self-discipline, civility and niceties of our personal relationship with our neighbors in particular, and with our fellowmen in general, and from kindergarten had learned good manners and right conduct. In short, we were taught how to be human and humane [more so on how to be polite and compassionate], but in the heat of the argument we snap and lose our cool and turn ourselves into extinct creatures of the zoo. In the great divide, we ask ourselves nonchalantly if not out of malice how and by what meanness we are exclusively identifying ourselves from the rest of animals in the animal kingdom. To our shocking discovery, we see the same way carnivorous are identified by the food they eat. We sink our fangs on principles and make mincemeat out of our opponent.
In politics, we are either red or blue, a donkey or an elephant. In the battlefield of our differences, those who hate
America camp out in the radical side of the great divide. Known as the left-leaning progressive or liberal ideologues, they are in an everlasting search of a new paradigm; the norm is static and temporary, while they are dynamic and contradictory, philosophically free to roam in the wilderness of individual rights, liberty and freedom where reality is relative and, as a concept, truth is open-ended.
The so-called Guardians of the Realm are conservatives in
Lincoln's camp that lean to the Right. They claim that they are the defenders of institutionalized American ideals and traditional values. They are proud in declaring that our forefathers impregnated these birthmarks in the womb of freedom and liberty when they founded this nation; from the other side of the great divide, they preach their beliefs and pontificate their concerns of what might become of America if they are not in control, which means that under the leadership of the radical Liberals, the ship of state is left to the wind, uncharted and unmanned. They believe in divine intervention when ungodly challenged, and premise their arguments on "In God We Trust".
"Nemesis" is a radical book written by Chalmers Johnson. It is a call in the wilderness, for all Americans to denounce
America as an evil empire, which in effect is similar to a call to arms to overthrow a hated government. Like many other several scholarly written hate-America discourses, "Nemesis" has to be reviewed and evaluated to give the average American a chance to decide whether or not
America is truly evil that should be erased from the map. Many disagreeing Americans believed the country is being lampooned to a serious injury if not to death. This is pointed out in several of my published editorial reviews. At least this wounded nation must be allowed to breathe.
My main concern is not how to restrain the discontented from hating America, but rather how to prevent this country from falling apart out of discontentment, and worse when public combatants relish on the aggravation of the conflict, their hands reaching at each other's throat. And all of these depend on how we argue our peace, nay compromise with our adversaries across the great divide to earn our peace. We are suppose to bridge instead of breach this
Knox of the great divide in order to civilly get along.
To back this up, I stand four squares on my belief that anyone has a right to say that this government and its supporters are his/her own mortal enemies. A radical Liberal assures
America of the freedom to love or hate, what not to believe, not whom to believe, not why and when to believe. Many of us hardly know that this hard positioning is but a restatement of the Conservative crusaders' freedom of choice to love or hate, what, whom, why and when to believe as they please.
The trick is to recognize that we are our own entire universe where each side has the right to be. Let us not think that we are God’s only special creation, and the others whom we think are wrong, are not. This is how I would end our animosities in a public debate where there is neither a winner nor loser.
To me it is more than enough if our differences of outlook in life in this great divide are publicly discussed with respect, and much more concluded in a polite and cordial manner.
In this home country where we reside and live for good, we cannot be as irrational as dogs and cats are that in their dislike of each other break glassware, delicate vases made of china and make a mess out of everything in the house.
After all, we are the only rational beings on the planet.
© Copyright Edwin A. Sumcad. Access for NWS January 07, 2008.
An introductory to the less acquainted in response to e-mailed inquiries to know more about this author: The writer is a veteran diplomat-journalist for more than 45 years and a recipient of excellence awards in journalism. Some of his award-winning essays and editorials are read in the Internet. Nationalwriterssyndicate.com is one of the author’s selected websites and/or outlets. A brief comment may be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.