America is deeply divided. Guns, abortion, the environment are only some of the topics causing that divide. And the Kavanaugh confirmation process seems to have widened that chasm. What surprises me most is that people can see the same witnesses and listen to the same testimony and reach opposing conclusions. Even those in the same family are divided. Those on one side cannot imagine how the other side sees something they don’t. We simply do not understand each other at all.
And it’s not as if those opinions are lightly held. People are angry; their rhetoric, scorching. The name-calling and personal attacks solve nothing. In fact, they make solving problems almost impossible. It’s hard for people to listen to those who have attacked them.
So let’s step back and look at what we have in common. Let us remember what is important to all of us. Surely we can agree on some universal values. I have five.
First, freedom. After all, this is America. We all want to be free to make our own choices. After all, shouldn’t everyone be able to do whatever they want as long as they don’t harm someone or something? Over-regulation is an impediment to that freedom – ahh, but remember, do no harm. So regulation that prevents harm while allowing the maximum amount of freedom is something we can agree on.
Second, peace. We want peace in our country. We want to be able to go for a walk without worrying about stray gunshots. We want our children to go to school without wondering if they’ll be coming back home at the end of the day. A little peace of mind is what we want. Do we need to ban guns to get that? Probably not. After all, criminals will always be able to get guns – even if it is illegal. But what we can do is ensure that law-abiding citizens have only a reasonable number of guns. And those guns should not be able to kill multiple human beings in a split second.
Third, health. We want to be well; but if we get sick, we want to be able to get the care we need. And we want to get that care without breaking the bank. That means we need health insurance for everyone that is reasonably priced and enough health care professionals to ensure that the sick don’t have to wait weeks to get that care.
Fourth, prosperity. That does not mean that we all get rich. Perhaps it is the pursuit of happiness that our forefathers spoke of. After all, we can’t be happy if we don’t have food to eat and a place to live. But to get food and housing, we must have sufficient money. In most cases, that requires a job paying a living wage. In turn, that means getting training or education, which demands time and money. As for jobs that don’t require real training or education, other solutions are needed.
Fifth, justice. Our need to see justice done is probably what caused the Kavanaugh confirmation uproar. We saw justice differently. And that alone is not bad. What is bad is calling each other names and reducing reasonable discourse to unrestrained attacks. So we have a choice: Do we continue with the personal attacks and turn our backs on each other and accomplish nothing except rancor? Or do we start with what we can agree on and build on that with civility and solve our problems?
Strangely, it was someone born and raised in another country who urged cooperation in a democracy:
You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy, let us use that power. Let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give youth a future and old age a security.
– Charlie Chaplin
So do we continue to spew vitriol on each other or do we get something done? The choice is ours.