The Cracks in Our Foundation


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We have no central ethos upon which to find equilibrium


America is becoming increasingly divided, and if it doesn’t change, we’re headed for serious trouble.

The left and right are growing steadily apart. The left has surged leftward, and the right has migrated a much smaller amount to the right. The rhetoric and animus on both sides are creating more and more people on the fringes. The middle is much smaller now than it was 25 years ago.

This is a tough problem to solve; people are inherently tribal. We tend to protect our own, and fight against the outgroup. Our lived experiences in a country this diverse vary extremely. History is rife with wars and genocide based on ingroup/outgroup conflict. It has always been difficult to unite large numbers of people into a cohesive group for very long at all. 

To get millions of people to come together peaceably you need a common overarching system of values to rally around. Common ground that a majority of citizens can agree on is what is rapidly evaporating. So, what inexorable force is driving this change?

In the U.S., for nearly 250 years our common values have included Faith, Family, and Country in roughly that order. It’s not perfect, but it is a profitable and coherent value system.

These values were nearly universal in America for generations. They served to calm the turbulent waters of political differences and kept us essentially united.

The Progressive movement has relentlessly and systematically attacked every one of these foundations. After all, to have a moral standard is to make a value judgment, and Progressives tend to recoil like a vampire before a crucifix at any value judgment whatsoever.

According to progressive thinking, Christianity is merely the justification for slavery and conquest. Religious types are intolerant and intolerable hypocrites. Religion, in general, is a societal poison that must be rooted out. The nuclear family is an archaic construct, and unnecessary. Single parenthood? Celebrated and promoted by reactionaries in Hollywood. Cohabitation? Every bit as legitimate as marriage. The US? Corrupt and oppressive in its very inception; its only real legacy is that of colonialism and slavery. Nationalism (what used to be a love for one’s country) is deliberately conflated with racial purity and judged to be no more than the Original Sin of fascism.

Let me stress that there is a little truth in all of these attacks, but it is a tainted, biased truth. It studiously ignores that which is great and noble in these foundations. And it ignores the fact that we as human beings absolutely require SOME viable morality to stand on. Without it, we become nihilistic, fractured and rudderless. It’s just the way we’re made.

The progressive left has chipped away at the imperfections in our moral foundations until we now see our society sinking into despair and dystopia, even while most things are objectively quite good, historically speaking. And, no, it’s not always good for everyone. It never is, and never will be. Albeit, the pursuit of that Nirvana has always served to justify the attempt to demolish the foundations upon which we stand.

I engage in a lot of philosophical, religious and political discussions with people online. I dislike arguing, but always enjoy giving folks a fresh perspective they hadn’t considered before and always with the goal of persuasion foremost in my mind. I don’t want my neighbors to be my enemies, I want to win them over.

Increasingly, however, I find that we have almost no basic principles in common. He is a Greek to me, and I am a Barbarian to him. But worse than that, I’m finding a complete unwillingness and/or inability to follow a basic premise, recognize good logic, or distinguish truth from a lie. This frightens me more than any other thing I can think of.

Because, when you have a nation full of unthinking automatons, you can program them to commit any abomination you like. Once programmed, no human compassion or critical thinking can penetrate the algorithm. I would much prefer to have half of our nation to be old school liberals in the mold of JFK. You can at least have a logical argument with those guys based on a common set of presuppositions.

And yes — I acknowledge that the Right has bred its fair share of nitwits as well — people who subscribe to the ideology but who aren’t aware of the concepts and values that undergird it. This is at least partially because, in a society where we’re not educating our children to esteem truth above all else, it becomes a race to see who can program the robots first.

So, yes, we live in two different Americas. The difference is in the belief systems that animate us, and they are diametrically opposed to one another. As the religious types are wont to say,

A house divided against itself cannot stand.

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