At the moment the United States doesn’t seem so united. In fact, the country seems to be tearing itself apart.
We seem to be at war with each other. The conflict isn’t so much physical yet, although there are signs of it with recent rioting. It’s more of what University of Virginia scholar James Davison Hunter called a “culture war.”
The recent hubbub about professional football players refusing to stand for the national anthems is just a symptom of this struggle. The kneeling is starting to spread to other venues.
“Taking a knee” is becoming a hashtag and is either praised or vilified. Some think doing so is a protest of injustice in American society. Others think this gesture is unpatriotic.
The nation is not only threatened from within. We also seem to be walking on the edge of a possible armed fight with North Korea, one that could easily go nuclear.
Our president seems to be provoking not only the battle with North Korea, but also the ones with his own citizens. Some of these Americans are not going quietly into that good night.
Some people seem to enjoy a scrap. Donald Trump apparently is one of them. I could easily name some of his enemies in the media and Congress who are just as happy to get down in the mud with him.
While politicians and competitive athletes seem to enjoy the contents of a chamber pot, most of us try to avoid kakka. Count me as one of them.
Because of my aversion to cultural rot I plan to avoid tonight’s planned “linking of arms” in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has called for fans at Lambeau Field to do this in order to display unity. I would just prefer Aaron and the rest of the guys just play ball. I am sure that his intentions are good but I just think the NFL is the wrong venue for political statements and such displays in stadiums just enflame the culture war in a hugely divided nation.
The Bible tells the story of a young fellow who found that the road to hell was indeed paved with good intentions. He didn’t plan to end up in dung-filled waters, but found himself in a pig pen because of his actions. He goes by the name of “The Prodigal Son” in modern vernacular.
This youth asked his father for his inheritance early and wandered off into a “far country”. There he squandered all his resources and as a result had to slop pigs and eat their food in order to survive.
Why did this wayward child leave his safe space at home? 20th century preacher J. Vernon McGee said that he bid adieu to his home because he was drawn to the far country, a place of mystery. It held a certain allure for the boy.
War and fighting holds a similar attraction to some. Young men are fascinated by it. Older ones are as well.
Confederate general Robert E. Lee was 56 years of age at the time of the Battle of Fredericksburg in 1862. As he watched Union troops advance on his army’s entrenchments, he said to General James Longstreet, “It is well that war is so terrible. Otherwise, we should grow too fond of it.”
Lee’s assessment on the horror of war was correct, especially during this battle. The North’s soldiers would be slaughtered as their own general sent them wave after wave into Lee’s unconquerable defenses.
Yet, the generations after General Lee seemed to shout “hurrah” and march off to battle when their governments called on them to do so. But they too learned of the terrible reality of combat once they were there.
Many cultural commentators are saying that the US is reaching a crossroads in its life as a nation. When they look at the landscape they see a country where the internal strife has put it on the eve of destruction unless something is done.
However, America has been up against it before. The Great Depression in the 1930s was one of those times. It was a period of extreme economic and social upheaval, yet we came out of it and became the leading power on Earth.
One of the reasons is that capable people have been trying to draw lessons from that period ever since. One of these experts is Christopher Burns, who has authored a book on how supposedly knowledgeable people made wrong decisions that lead to some of America’s greatest disasters, such as the sinking of the Titanic and war.
In a documentary about the Depression called “When the World Breaks”, Burns discusses how societies reach their breaking points. But he also suggests a positive consequence that come from these emergencies.
“I think we progress in lurches. I think we lurch forward. I think we adopt a set of rules and a vocabulary and a standard for truth and that serves us well. This is certainly true in science. It serves us well right up until the moment where all of a sudden it isn’t working and the whole world comes apart. We don’t know how to change it gradually. We just have to wait for the iceberg. And then a wonderful thing happens: the world falls apart. And we are able to stand there and say ‘what are we really trying to do here? What is our world really like?’ And one of our most important resources in our country is creativity.
Like the Titanic, America has hit the iceberg and is at risk of sinking. Instead of working together to plug the leaks, Americans are at war.
We have to stop fighting before we all drown. To get to the point that we put down our weapons, we Americans have to change our thinking.
Traditionalists have to see that the ship has sailed on change in America. Like it or not, the US is not the country it was, even 50 years ago.
Progressives need to comprehend that people who have views different from theirs are by and large decent human beings and not bigots or fascists. In the midst of change, America should not throw the baby out with the bath water.
If we don’t get creative together we will continue to fall apart. Our war will destroy us. On the other side of war is darkness.
NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers has called for fans at to link arms tonight at his team’s game in Green Bay, Wisconsin in order to display unity. The National Football League has become ground zero in the culture war lately.
My first inclination when I heard about this was to become dismissive because I would just prefer that Aaron and the rest of the guys just play ball and avoid politics at a sports event. But now I think that Rodgers is onto something.
I think it’s better that we lay down our rhetorical arms and link them together than keep battling each other. If that’s the purpose of this demonstration, I am all for it.