I grew up proud to be an American. When I was in my childhood, I paced emphasis on the word United when I referred to the nation my ancestors fought for and built. When I recited the Pledge of Allegiance, the phrase “one nation, indivisible” stirred me.
Over the years I have become increasingly aware that we are not, in fact or in deed, united. The divisions between us distress me. I am uncertain what, if anything, I can do about the sorry condition we find ourselves in. I cannot, however, stop trying.
I have been giving thought to what it is that divides us. My conclusion is that our disunity arises from two distinct sources. The first of these sources is cultural and finds expression in beliefs and attitudes. A common manifestation of divisive beliefs and attitudes are feelings of superiority and inferiority based on physical characteristics.
These beliefs and attitudes reveal themselves in the form of racism, sexism, and ethnocentrism, although phenotypical discrimination can also be the source of such disunity.
The cultural sources of these divisive beliefs and attitudes would, in my opinion, be best addressed by increased contact and interaction between disparate groups. Acceptance arises out of understanding. These divisions have been with us for centuries and are quite embedded in our cultures. They are most difficult to address and to overcome.
The second source of our divisiveness is social structural. I have concluded that the two biggest impediments to our national unity are political parties and states. I will try to have more of my thinking about this in the next few days.