Wednesday, October 6

Our Sharply Divided Land Part 1

Gwen Ifill as moderator of the VP debates asked about our divided country. Why is this so? Is it as divided as we think? What are the root causes of the divide. What are the common themes? I'm going to attempt to muse about these issues and return to this question over the course of several posts.

In the current campaign, we are divided on:
  • abortion
  • same sex marriage
  • religion co-existing with a secular government.
  • taxation and the budget
  • spending
  • social security
  • should we wage a GWOT or a WOaQ (Global War on Terror or War On al-Qaeda)
  • this list goes on .....
But, I think there is truly only one issue at heart. What separates the left from the right is they have different ethical standards. Ethics to put it baldly is how one defines "good". To use a simple example from one of the above "dividing lines" in our society, a "Bible-based citizen" (BBC) will fall on a different side of the SSM (Same Sex Marriage) issue than a secular humanist (SH). The SH feels that a persons "personal sexual affirmation" trumps societies concerns. Nowhere in the biblical tradition is homosexuality affirmed, thus the BBC is against it. This difference is not going to be addressed by the BBC insisting to the SHthat he is going to drag society into a pit of amoral licentiousness. The SHis not going to convince the BBC that he is "hateful" and must be "embrace diversity".

This is because the BBC is not hateful or particularly un-embracing of diversity. However, he feels that "the good" is well defined and laid out for him in scripture. That is why he feels that way about SSM. There is no animus involved in his decision. I will grant there exist those who claim to be BBC members who do hate, but I feel there is a strong theological consensus that that is not Biblical.

Likewise the SH is not lacking in personal morals. I won't go into his rationale.

However their arguments to one another fall on deaf ears because they miss the basis for the decision-making of the two protagonists. If you don't understand the reasons for one's decisions, your efforts to effect change will be futile.

In future posts I will try to understand
  • what are some of the major ethical frameworks at work in America today.
  • what advice can we give them in trying to facilitate communication between these groups in order to minimize discord.