For as long as I can remember, our nation has been at war. A constant and often violent warfare has raged on through my entire life. I can’t remember ever living in a time of peace and tranquility.
But the battle I am talking about is not just the wars that we have fought against other nations. While I have watched those conflicts take place, and I see our world in turmoil even today, the worst battle of all is the one we fight against ourselves.
From my early childhood, I have listened to my relatives argue about politics at family gatherings. In my small town, the old farmers would gather at the coffee shop or barbershop each morning to debate the actions being taken by the government.
Some were republicans, others were democrats, but all were convinced that their way, their party, held all the answers. At times those discussions became heated and hostile, creating divisions between family members and lifelong friends.
The sole purpose for the existence of our government is to focus on the well-being of our nation and protect its people. It’s a demanding, complex, and often thankless job. Determining the best course of action for each situation a nation faces is not an easy task.
While our leaders strive to make the best possible decisions, it is impossible to find a solution that will be acceptable to everyone. But when those who carry that responsibility refuse to work together as a team, the task becomes impossible to accomplish.
But unfortunately, those we have elected to lead and guide us have not always given us the best example to follow.
As an adult I have watched as both teams have become more focused on attaining power and control than serving the people who elected them. So much energy and financial resources are being wasted on an internal wrestling match with one side pitted against the other.
When the leadership of a nation lowers itself to petty arguments, name-calling and malicious accusations, the entire nation suffers. Our nation, our world has many problems that require carefully focused attention. When our leadership choses to fight against each other instead of working together on those issues, the problems become worse.
As one faction fights the other, doing all it can to squelch any potentially positive actions and accuse wrongdoing, we all lose. Those battles don’t end in Washington, they continue on across our nation. Instead of binding us together to live in unity and harmony, we argue and insult each other. We follow the example that is presented to us by our leaders through the news everyday. As hate and discord continues to grow, so does fear and insecurity.
Our country has been described as a melting pot. Citizens of many nations have made their home here to enjoy the freedoms that we all hold dear. The mix of cultures, religions and languages has naturally caused some divisions, but for the most part we did our best to co-exist with a minimum of conflict.
But in recent years we seem to have become divided over so many things, and that has led to an increase in hostility.
Social media has not helped the situation. Facebook and other such venues have actually made things worse by giving people a means to attack without fear of consequences. These sites are often a source of misinformation and distorted truths, which serve to create even more hostility and division.
Political views have always served to divide us to some extent. But it seems that that division is growing and becoming more hostile than ever. If this nation is going to survive, things have to change.
That change has to begin with each one of us. We’re not going to agree on everything, but we can agree on some things. We all want to be free, and live without fear. We all want our families to be protected, safe and provided for.
We may not believe or support the same things, and that’s OK. We each have a right to our own opinions and beliefs, but we don’t need to destroy each other over our differences. We can learn to respect each other’s opinions, and work together peacefully toward the things we do agree on.
We can act like mature adults, and teach our children to do the same.
If our government can’t set an example for us, perhaps we can set an example for our government.
CourierTraveler reporter John Shelman can be contacted at (620) 442-4200 or firstname.lastname@example.org.