People are divided right now. I have not found a single person who would disagree with that statement. The difficulty is finding someone who believes they are a part of the problem. The current state of affairs didn’t appear overnight. This divisiveness has been slowly growing over a number of years for a number of reasons. In recent years there are certain things that have accelerated the division and deepened the divides.
Awareness of the things that are creating division can help us avoid some of them. It can also make us more aware of how we may be part of the problem and how we can participate in the solution. Here are seven things I see contributing to the divisiveness around us.
We Have Lost The Ability To Disagree
We use cliches like “we will agree to disagree” but virtually no one really believes that. We are intent on convincing the other person they are wrong. If we do not agree with each other, we tend to separate. We group with people who look like us, think like us and want the things we want. We no longer just disagree, we divide.
Inflammatory Rhetoric By Leaders
Leaders are not ignorant of the fact that people are choosing division over a disagreement, so they create raving fans by appealing to the extremes. They believe it is better to have a few raving fans than a lot of lukewarm followers. These leaders will say whatever is necessary to excite their fan base while ignoring those not fully committed to their cause. What they say doesn’t have to be true or wise, it only has to appeal to a certain bias.
Analysis Over Information
There has been a lot written over the impact of the 24-hour news cycle and news networks on society. 24-hour television news networks are made for profit, not for information. The only way they can profit is to create raving fans which require them to appeal to a certain bias. These outlets have become purveyors of opinionated analysis over information. On any given network they will give you a few seconds of information followed by a panel of three to eight people telling you what they believe that information means. There is an abundance of biased analysis and very little unbiased information. On the other hand, the local news stations have limited time so information tends to be more important than analysis.
More Talking And Less Listening
Everyone has a platform so they are talking and not listening. Social media has been the largest contributor to this. Everyone has the ability to tell everyone what they think and so they do. Every opinion gets equal billing even if they are not equally informed. Normal personality rules do not apply either. Even people who are normally quiet in a public gathering or meeting, or who normally go to great lengths to avoid conflict, will be overly confrontational on platforms where there is no face to face contact.
Points Over People
Our point reigns supreme. We are more intent on making our point than we are having a relationship with people. We will go to great lengths to prove our point no matter the cost to the relationship. You learn quickly in a marriage that there are times when being right is not nearly as important as having peace in the relationship. Sometimes we should seek peace with people over making a point with people.
Politics Over Principle
People are more committed to their political parties than to their personal convictions. There are way too many people who refuse to address certain issues because they are afraid people will identify them with the wrong political party. Live your life by principles, not politics.
This is relatively new on the scene but is accelerating the division. During the current pandemic, many gatherings have been eliminated. People are working from home. Kids are not going to school. Families are not going to church. The isolation insulates us from people who are different from us so we start to believe that our way must be right. Lack of community in any situation will inflame division. Some of the separations may be helping us stay physically healthy but it is quickly eroding relational health and there are long term implications that a vaccine will not repair.
We can be part of the solution if we choose to. We must first be aware of how each of these things is affecting us then we will need to be intentional to seek health in our relationships.