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We're too divided as a nation, it wasn't always like this


By J. Hogan

I’m often sad at the division in our country. It’s so bad that I sort of think we should find a peaceful way to divide the land and divorce. I hate saying that. Yet, we’re in a situation where both halves of our country don’t want to live under the other half.

I went to the Army willing to lose my life for this nation if needed… it hurts to even think of the country ceasing. When I think of why I feel that way it’s, well, us.

Every time our president's policies result in pain for the economy, folks on the other side relish it. It was true under Obama, it was true under Trump, and it’s true under Biden.

Rooting for pain for yourself and your fellow citizens because your person didn’t win the last election is like celebrating the cruise ship sinking with you on it because you don’t care for the captain.

We once could talk about matters, agree to disagree, try to gain some insight into why our neighbor doesn’t view a matter the way we do… heck, maybe even learn something.

That’s gone. We don’t see one another as wrong if they disagree, we see them as evil. Now, I know that’s not true of everyone, but it’s true of enough folks that no one talks about anything aside from how-’bout-this-weather? and how’s-the-wife-and-kids?

The political science term for what has happened to us is “balkanization.” Balkanization is the division of a multi-national state into smaller ethnically homogeneous entities, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. Thirty years ago conversation stopped in the Balkans, and gunfire started. Neighbors helped dig mass graves to bury folks they’d joked with not very long ago on the morning bus commute.

It happened with the help of an ever more polarized media there, but without the easier, uglier social media platforms of today.

Now we can burn relationships en masse on a personal level. One decades-old family business I know of went under during the Trump years partly because a family member who despises Trump would go online and call customers who’d always been loyal to the business vulgar names for not agreeing with him. So they quit buying there.

This year’s Supreme Court session ended with a not unexpected overturning of Roe v. Wade and immediately some people who agreed with that couldn’t just be pleased that it went their way, they made memes and comments all over the internet mocking folks who were emotionally invested in the opposite stance.

Teressa and I taught our children what we’d learned growing up - be a good sport about it when you win.

Don’t spike the ball in the other guy’s face. Don’t mock him in his hurt and disappointment in the moment.

It’s a very Mayberry sentiment, but we could use some more Mayberry sentiment these days. The Jerry Springer ones didn’t age so well, and the fruit that’s borne has us tearing the very fabric of society apart with appalling speed.

I’d much rather we fix it than get a divorce, but that fabric needs some loving care and I fear it won’t stand much more tearing away.

Rev. James Hogan is a native of Stowe Township and serves as pastor of Faithbridge Community Church in McKees Rocks.



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