Wednesday, October 25, 2006

HOUSES DIVIDED: What Are the Chances On One Surviving?

Have you noticed how many people seem to believe the US will never fall; these are the same people who rarely think about their own mortality ... there has to be a syndrome for that. In my opinion, their critical thinking skills don't show up in their long suit.

Even more damning are those who know better, yet go ahead and act in ways which jeopardize a future generation's generation. Among these are those who profess a goal of unity but are in fact the most divisive. Apparently it never occurs to them they might be wrong and their opponent just might be right ... or, go figure, they might both be wrong!

And then there is the inexhaustible supply of people in positions of power and privilege who misuse that power or abuse that privilege; the thought of their numbers brings on a brain-freeze. Even more incredible is the public that continues to allow them to lead.

Mort Zuckerman wrote an editorial a while back on the subject of a "House Divided"; in his piece he expresses concern for the good old USA ...
Our national conversation has become too shrill, too polarized, too inflamed, too predictable, too divisive, and altogether too inimical to our national interest. On the larger canvas of our political culture wars, the stinging exchange of letters between John McCain and Barack Obama over ways to root out lobbying corruption on Capitol Hill is no more than a mere skirmish.

It was all the more depressing, however, because these two senators represent the best hope for a real revival of centrism, the rational bipartisan consensus that expresses the nation's will with force and eloquence and that has served America so well in its worst crises.
Clearly, if those two are "the best hope for a real revival of centrism," we're in a world of hurt! Though one of them is better looking and a lot smarter than the other, medals aside.

Zuckerman gets the title of his editorial from Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and Lincoln from the bible ... [Matthew 12:25]

Let me parody the words of Lincoln, a long time hero of mine ...
If we could but first know where we are, and where we are headed, we might better judge what to do, and how to do it. We are now far into the fifth year since a policy was initiated with the avowed object, and confident promise, of putting an end to terrorist agitation.

Under the operation of that policy, that agitation has not only not ceased, but has been constantly augmented. In my opinion, it will not cease, until a crisis shall have been reached and passed. "A house divided against itself cannot stand."

I believe this government cannot endure permanently half progressive and half conservative. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved -- I do not expect the house to fall -- but I do expect it will cease to be divided.

For the most part it will become all one thing, or all the other. Either the opponents of terrorism will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it's Shari'a shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new -- Right as well as Left.

Have we no tendency towards this latter condition?
My personal worldview understands man will probably continue to disagree on politics, religion, and morality until the end of the ages, but it insists I not fill venom sacs and bare fangs each and every time someone comes along who doesn't agree with me!

A nation's people can only flourish when a conspicuous majority live in compelling unity. The individual organizations and agencies must be employed in voluntary promotion of a common good. If divided -- so as to fail in this duty, if one part busies itself in undoing what the other has done -- that people will fall. So we see as happened to contemporary Europe, the Roman Empire, and many oriental empires.

In the original of this popular maxim we see the ...
... masterly confutation of [Jesus' opponents'] reasonings, by a conclusion drawn from their own premises, [this] one would have supposed might have humbled and convinced these men; but the most conclusive reasoning ... [is] lost upon a people who [are] obstinately determined to disbelieve every thing good .... [Adam Clarke]
Any nation, where irreconcilable disagreement prevails between her leaders and compelling majority of her citizens, will not maintain national comfort or flourish in that condition, but will, given time, come to nothing .... "this is a maxim that has been so often fatally verified, that no one will doubt the truth of it" [John Gill].
It is not just that President Bush is one of the most polarizing presidents in recent history. [but that] this polarization is not confined to the beltway. It has seeped out into the public at large, which now believes that the differences reflect fundamental views about who we are as Americans. [Zuckerman: A House Divided]
We cannot, as good people allow this to continue. This is not a time for winning the debate or the day, proving, so to speak, that your opponent is wrong. Nor is this the time for appeasement or capitulation with our enemies ... and my friend, we have them, you and I.

No, this is a time for national common sense, for national reasoning, and national unity to take place for the opening of opportunity's doors to oppose that which would have our foundations destroyed.

If a fire is racing toward our community and your home is between the fire and mine, it is not prudent for me to stay and wet down my home while you wet down yours. No, if we stop the fire at the homes at the edge of town we all survive. Sure the view will be less than pristine, but your house AND mine have a better chance if we take a stand side by side in the frontyard of the home nearest the flame.

In our marriage we have an agreement: we can disagree about anything but never decide on that thing as long as disagreement persists. Lordy, we have a lot to disagree about in this great land today, but if we don't take a stand in each other's yards we are doomed to be overwhelmed by the shear numbers of the petty things we disagree on.
The power of "public opinion" and "popular sentiment," selectively defined in polls and focus groups, too often overwhelms individual opinion. [Zuckerman]
When I was in the business world there was a rule we followed, and many still use it today: "major on the majors not on the minors." As a nation we're so drunk on the minors we can't see much farther than our elbows. We're so close to the fuse the smoke has blinded us to the bomb. We're all so screwed up in our hubris and our isms we're going to get each other killed and destroy the Lady Liberty.

I have no idea what it will take to get rid of every last "politician" in America but we best find a way! And when we send them packing, I'd like to see a lawyer on one arm and an insurance executive on the other.

Machiavelli, in his classic "The Prince," taught this principle to his students: divide your opponent and conquer them. This has been part of the curriculum in every military school since Hannibal (and is also practiced in organized sports).
The cumulative result has been a decline in democracy toward a fragmented populism. People mobilize around smaller special interests and remove themselves from the search for the common good. [Zuckerman]
Here we are, dividing each other by law, race, nationality, religion, personality, skill, political party, and morality, weakening the very foundation upon which we stand. Look guys, we're all Americans and anyone who can't abide by that should find a nice third-world nation to inhabit!
When the values that prevail are those of the marketplace, and our political dialogue is timed to the drumbeat of the sports stadium, we are in trouble. [Zuckerman]
Zuckerman sums it up nicely for me ...
Today, America has unprecedented responsibilities, but it is difficult for a superpower to discharge these duties with its domestic political house in disarray.

How different it was during World War II, which we fought as a united nation, against two enemies--Germany and Italy--that had not attacked us.

Today, sadly, our divisions encourage our enemies, dishearten our allies, and sap our resolve. We must change gears.

I'll give a hearty "Here's to Mort!" at the sound of that ... now go and do likewise!

Read Whole Editorial

Crossposted: Less People Less Idiots

BLOGS: Right Truth

Divided House image by Bruce McPherson

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