One Nation, Indivisible
It was probably easy to see the satirical nature of the title as our country has found itself in a concerning time.
The argument could be made with little effort that America’s society is more divided than it has ever been, besides the Civil War. Important political topics that impact our nation every day can’t even be brought up in conversations between family members as it risks tempers flaring in disagreement.
Now, this may seem normal to many as our political climate has been like this for a while now, but what could be causing this polarization? There are many places this can stem from, but social media seems to be the most prevalent.
In a 2016 interview published by the American Psychological Association titled “Speaking of Psychology: How politics became so uncivilized,” social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, Ph.D., compares the use of social media to a human race that jumps from spears to handguns in weapon technology.
“There’d be a lot of killing," said Haidt. "Eventually we presume, they’d work out norms for how to live with handguns but it would take a while. That’s where we are with social media. We all really care about our reputations and we suddenly have this technology that allows us to slander anyone else instantly to draw a mob.
"While social media may be a tool that many of us are comfortable with, the reality is that social media hasn’t been around long enough for society to use it properly.
"Social media to me is like this technology that we’re just not, we’re not adapted for. We’re not used to yet. Social media may be a reoccurring factor in the political divide in the United States, but some things can be done to help solve this split.
"To start, Americans need to understand again that it’s okay to disagree with each other."
Haidt said it best later on in his interview, saying that “diversity is a good thing. But the most important kind of diversity is viewpoint diversity.”
One of the best examples of the diversity of thought is the United States government in its early years, compared to governments in Europe at the time.
From the American Historical Association, an article originally published in 1860 in the New-York Daily Tribune titled “The American Experiment,” talks about how European nations had closely watched the growth of the United States throughout its early existence.
The article states, “The social, and especially the political institutions of the United States, have, for the whole of the current century, been the subject in Europe, not merely of curious speculation, but of the deepest interest. We have been regarded as engaged in trying a great experiment, involving not merely the future fate and welfare of this Western continent, but the hopes and prospects of the whole human race.”
From this article, we can see the main foundation of this nation derives from its high acclaim of the diversity of thought.
To quote Abraham Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address, he proclaimed “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
The United States is not perfect and has many flaws, but the people can criticize and can fix its problems because of the freedoms that are protected by our government.
We as a society may not always agree on certain obstacles presented to our nation, but we must all remember that it’s okay not to agree. And while a few may truly have hate in their heart, that cannot be said for the majority of our nation. We must be able to look at one another with respect and be able to recognize the earnestness and decency inside each other.
For our thoughts may differ, but our integrity remains true.
For the full interview withHaidt, go to the American Psychological Association online at www.apa.org.
To read “The American Experiment” in its entirety, visit the American Historical Association website at www.historians.org.