Coming Together

Is Coming together, or unity in the United States, be a thing of the past. What is stopping us from uniting our country? Can we make our country one nation indivisible, under God, with liberty and justice for all? The answer is simpler than you think. So simple, in fact, we look past it because we intently focus on what divides us and not what brings us together. So, let’s discover the answer together.

The Great Divide

Race and Color

What can I say? Racial tensions are high in the United States right now. While there have been ebbs and flows in terms of the focus on race relations, this is a strong point of contention right now. The press covered several controversial actions by police officers across the country, bringing this issue to the forefront. There is currently a deep divide or this issue.

Religion

Before we think about coming together, let’s understand what divides us. Start with God. The phrase ‘one nation under God indivisible with liberty and justice for all’ is from the pledge of allegiance. President Eisenhower urged Congress to add ‘under God’ in 1954. We were fighting the Soviet/American cold war and communism was the enemy. Since we do not believe that there is room for God in a communistic society, adding the phrase was a significant statement opposing communism.

More recently, atheism, or at the very least people who identify as ‘religious nones’ has been on the upswing. See the table below. Websters defines atheism as “a lack of belief or a strong disbelief in the existence of a god or any god.” This belief, or lack thereof, is the impetus of many lawsuits related to stamping out any reference to God wherever possible.

increase of religious nones

Then add that even those who believe in God cannot agree on what that means. I will divide the Christian religion into two broad groups. There are Protestantism and Catholicism. And we further divide those groups into subdivisions. And let’s not forget to throw in all the other religions out there. There are Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Taoism, and the list goes on. Within most of those groups, there are also subgroups. Clearly, religion divides us, or it is a major point of disagreement. It prevents us from coming together.

Sex

While not at the top of the list of things that divide us, it still ranks in the top ten. Half the country was deeply disappointed by the 2016 loss of Hillary Clinton. She would have been the first woman US President. Also, few people deny some forms of discrimination involving women’s pay and status in the business world, but those are not the most controversial discriminatory practices.

Same-sex marriage, equal access to bathrooms, gender neutrality, or gender-based on how you feel are very controversial. But the courts have upheld the rights of these classes of people to equal protection under the law. There is a lot of controversy around these issues, primarily along with religious people.

National Origin

Another area that causes deep division. When President Trump restricted travel to the United States from a group of mostly Muslim nations, there was an outcry he was discriminating based on National Origin. At the same time, Trump contended it was because of national security concerns. Later, when people first realized COVID-19 was spreading, Trump curtailed travel to and from China. That is where the virus originated. Again, members of Congress, along with many others, were crying foul. We were discriminating based on National Origin again.

While the Supreme Court ruled the case regarding the curtailed travel from Muslim countries constitutional, it remained a very divisive issue. However, Trump expanded the travel restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19, and other countries followed suit with similar restrictions. Eventually, this became a much less controversial issue. In fact, people stopped criticizing President Trump for implementing travel restrictions on China and started denouncing him for not doing enough to stop the spread. Again, this is an issue that often divides us and keeps people from coming together.

So What’s All This Tell Us?

This is not an all-inclusive list, but I want to make a point here. We have discussed Race, Color, Religion, Sex, and National Origin. These are all listed as protected classes on the EEOC website. Someone felt these were important enough to name them as prohibited reasons for making employment and other decisions. Why? Because we are so divided on these topics.

And there are so many other points of division. Gun control, closing businesses, and churches during COVID-19, even whether to wear masks divide us. While we mostly think these issues to be political, but I submit they go much deeper. Let’s keep looking at what keeps us from coming together.

What Is Stopping Us From Coming Together?

Selfishness

That’s right, selfishness. You may think that’s not you, but you are selfish. So am I. We all focus on ourselves to varying degrees. We worry about keeping and protecting those things we value the most. At the risk of offending someone, I will use a story from the Bible to illustrate my point.

Matthew 19:16–22 (ESV)
16And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”
17And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.”
18He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness,
19Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
20The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?”
21Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
22When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.1

So whether it is to follow Jesus or pursue your principles, are you willing to give up everything to do that? Would you give up most of what you have? You get the point.

Politics

There is no question political divides exist. The misconception is that these are the root of what divides our country. We are looking for a united Congress or a new President to bring us together. They can set an example, but they cannot bring us together. Why? Because the politicians are selfish. And I include not just Republicans or Democrats but for all politicians. Progressives, Independents, Libertarian, right-wing conservative, moderate, or left-wing liberal, are selfish.

If you don’t believe me, just look at the infighting. They are so entrenched in their positions they won’t budge. They use Twitter and other social media platforms to spew vitriol and stir up controversy. Joe Biden ran on a platform of unity, but so far, everything I have heard is that he will push his agenda without regard for the 70 million people who voted against his ideas. He starts with executive orders on day one. There is no discussion, no attempt to reach out and find common ground. That is a perfect example of selfishness.

Lest you think I am picking on the Democrats, the same thing applies to Republicans. President Trump issued executive orders one after the other. They were almost all to please his base, not the broader population. Obama did the same. No one is immune. And it sets the example that coming together is not a priority.

People

Yes, we are part of the problem. I suggest we are the biggest part of the problem. We say we want to help others; we want to provide homes to the homeless, feed the hungry, and solve all the world’s problems. But really examine yourself and ask, what will I give up to do what I say I want to do? Just look at the examples many people proclaim they want to the right wrongs and help others. What have they given up?

The Rich

So we have Bill Gates and others who will give their fortunes away. Just not while they are still enjoying those fortunes. Let’s look at Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter. He is crusading to stamp out violence and change the world for the better. But what has he given up to do that? Not his seaside home estimated to be worth $9.9 million. Don’t forget his Twitter shares worth billions of dollars.

We see celebrities constantly tweeting about how bad capitalism is and the unequal treatment of minorities. But they continue to live in luxury and enjoy the good life. Is that a bad thing? No. But stop criticizing everyone else until you will put what you value where your tweets are. And yes, many of the people I talk about give a lot to charities. But again, at the risk of offending many, I will use another Bible story to illustrate the principle of giving.

Mark 12:41-44 (ESV) 41 And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. 43 And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. 44 For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”2

That is how you bring people together. Love your neighbor as you love yourself.

Is Coming Together In Unity A Thing Of The Past

No, it is not. Because it never existed in our country. Sure, we can come together when there is a common threat. When Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, there was almost no one who disagreed we should go to war. But don’t kid yourself, we all of our other divisions still existed. We just temporarily put them aside to protect our lives and property. Our basic nature continued to exist. There was still racism, poverty, and inequalities based on just about everything we have talked about.

Another example was 9-11. It likely got George Bush re-elected. The attack on the twin towers shocked and angered us all. Again, we came together temporarily to fight a common enemy. But all the things that divided us remained. Again, we just temporarily turned our focus on protecting ourselves against a common enemy.

But in both of the examples, I just used wasn’t the primary motivator, selfishness? We were intent on protecting ourselves from harm or getting revenge or both.

Wrapping It Up

Can We Unite Our Country?

I am sure you are probably asking yourself, can we ever come together? Can we unity our country? And the answer is yes, we can. But, unfortunately, we never will. Because we cannot come together until we turn our focus from ourselves to others. To do that, we need help. And I believe the only thing that can help us is a relationship with Jesus Christ. Not religion, but a relationship. And too many of us are going in the other direction.

Should We Give Up?

Never give up. Every small step we take toward turning our attention from ourselves to others helps someone, somewhere. And we need to help others. Not because it makes us feel good, or helps relieve our conscience because we have so much. We need to do it because it is the right thing. We need to do it because that is the example Jesus set. And for my fellow believers, we need to do it because of what Jesus did for us.

So as former Prime Minister Churchill said, never, never, never give up.

I welcome comments. Please let me know what you think of this post below. Thank you.

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Footnotes

  1. ]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 19:16-22). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
  2. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mk 12:41–44). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
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