Guest Commentary / January 8, 2022

Divided America

These are the issues that divide us, and we need to understand them so we can resolve them and heal as a nation.

By Larry Craig

A wise man has said that a house divided cannot stand. Our country has never been more divided than it is today. A friend of mine disagreed and thought we were more divided at the time of the Civil War. I said no, because then we were divided only on two issues: states’ rights and slavery. Now we are divided on everything.

If that wise man is right, we need to focus on uniting our country while we still can.

I want to discuss key fundamental issues that are at the root of this division. There could be more — I just stopped looking when I got to six so I could write this article. But by identifying the issues, we know where we need to focus our discussions. And discuss them we must.

The first issue is whether the United States is essentially a good country, the freest country in the history of the world, a light on a hill, an example to the nations, or whether our country is fatally flawed, inherently racist and oppressive, founded on hatred for non-whites, and in serious need of a major rewrite of our founding documents.

Another person, a wise woman, once said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others. And herein is the dilemma.

When you allow people enormous freedom, you are saying that you trust people. You trust them to do what is right. Our Founders believed in and believed in teaching our children such things as the Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule, and the second-greatest commandment, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. All of these are from the Bible.

If our people actually cared for each other and wanted to do what is right, they could enjoy the immense freedoms described to us in the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to our Constitution.

Some will say that our country’s history of oppression and discrimination against blacks and other minorities proves that we are not a good country. But like the statement about democracy, any person living here still has more freedom and opportunity than anywhere else in the world. You can look at instances of discrimination and feel oppressed, or you can look at the opportunities and feel empowered. The choice is yours.

The second issue is whether our country is inherently religious or secular. By religious or secular, I mean the structure of the country, not the people itself. That will follow.

The Declaration of Independence says that our rights are inalienable and come from God. That means that our rights precede and supersede government. Government did not give them and government cannot take them away.

When we say that God gave us these rights, how did we know that He did? And what God are we talking about? Some religions don’t believe in a right to life. Another major one does not believe in a right to pursue happiness, as the Founders understood it. That’s why God, prayer, and the Bible were part of our public education, public life, and policymaking for almost 200 years after our nation’s founding, until the court called supreme said we can’t do that.

When we remove God from our public life and public education and public policy, then rights are no longer inalienable. They are negotiable, contingent, limited. They also change in other ways.

Our founding rights were things that we could do without the government’s permission, regulation, or interference. Now rights have become things to which we are entitled. Rights are what are owed to us.

Which leads us to the third dividing issue: the role of government. The Declaration of Independence asserts that governments exist to secure us our inalienable rights. Now that we have removed God from our public life, education, and policy, government exists to take care of our people. People have rights to more and more things that the government now must ensure that they have.

And as we are learning, there is not enough money in the world to take care of the people who rely on government to provide for their needs. The last three issues have become the secular answer to the Ten Commandments, though I don’t know what they call them. Are they commandments? Edicts? Goals?

The fourth issue dividing our country is diversity. We are told that diversity is our strength, but we are not told how or why that is.

If life was about solving problems such that every different possibility of looking at a problem was needed to reach the best solution, then, yes, diversity is a strength. But we would be hard-pressed to think of an example where we need that.

In real life, people gather with those of common interests. Churches, clubs, and organizations all have common goals and activities that unite them. Your friends are those you share things with.

America was founded around a common set of ideals: equality and inalienable rights. Not equality in that everybody must have the same standard of living, same incomes, and same education, but equality such that nobody has a divine or inherent right to rule over other people, like they had in Europe at that time.

We have millions of people who come into our country to live every year, legally and illegally. Do we even care that they know the principles on which our country was built? How can we be united if we have a hundred different ideas about what America is?

The fifth issue is equity.

Equity and diversity go together. We no longer think of our people as Americans, but we are all part of smaller subsets of people.

We are no longer on one team, America; we are all on different teams. As one team, we sought out the best and brightest, but now we are more concerned that every subgroup is proportionally represented rather than ensuring we have the best people for a position.

Thankfully, we still have sports where people qualify strictly on their abilities and not their membership in various subgroups.

The last issue is inclusion, wherein we demand things of everyone for the sake of a few. The Chicago Public Schools, for example, no longer has male and female bathrooms. They are designated by the facilities provided in each one: some have only stalls and some have urinals as well. Students are free to use whichever one they want. This means that the vast majority of the students may find themselves sharing a bathroom with people of the opposite sex, which can make them feel uncomfortable and unsafe.

Is this a wise policy?

We didn’t explore these issues in depth. But we did identify them, and these are the things we need to talk about, as families, in schools, and in our government halls.

These are the issues that divide us, and we need to understand them so we can resolve them and heal as a nation.

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