The results of the Nov. 2 election portray a nation and civilization at two extremes, polarized and divided on the role and course of the United States in history. One side sees America through gold colored sunglasses as the champion of democracy and moral vision; the other side sees the dark side of American self-absorption and perception that has created an unethical war, burgeoning deficits and a unilateral foreign policy. Regardless of whom you voted for on Nov. 2, or where you stand on these competing American visions, the nation is divided at its core.
The current divisions in American culture are not new phenomena. The republican form of our democracy that we espouse is rich with contrarian views and replete with divisive outcomes. What is disturbing, however, is the lack of a unified national consciousness that could mitigate these extremes and provide a national vision that is inclusionary rather than exclusionary. The inability to reconcile our national diversity with the need for a corresponding unity underlying our civilization provides ample fuel for the flames of intolerance, suppression and warhere and abroad.
The problem of limited or localized awareness is at the crux of our national divisiveness. We see only what we want to see and behave on the premise that self-interest, enlightened or otherwise, is the basis of all experience. The results of such thinking and behavior are predictable: we use and manipulate everything in our material and political environment to ensure our own survival at the cost of everyone else. Unfortunately, the effects of our limited behavior or consciousness affects all of us whether we understand their mechanics or not. As we limit our intelligence, creativity and consciousness, we create more fear, tension and hatred, locally and globally.
The presidents call to unify the nation is absolutely necessary, but hardly credible when he said that he intends to use the political capital he garnered in the election as a national mandate. Further, his position on American self-interest and the role of democratization in the Middle East, fails to consider the differences in culture and consciousness that exist there and throughout the world. And yet, the nation voted resoundingly to continue with President Bush and his national and world views. The results are a divided nation, and a world growing weary and suspicious of one approach and one vision.
Craig G. Campbell is a local author and publisher.