the great divide
National tragedies used to bring us together. We would mourn, grieve and watch the news as if we were holding hands with the entire world.
Things have changed since September 11, 2001. While that event did bring the world together in shock, grief and outrage, it didn't last very long.
The post 9/11 world has become polarized. At some point after the first images of the burning World Trade Center became faded and then replaced by other events, we reached that proverbial fork in the road. And while some went one way and some went another, the result was the same. Our landscape had become politicized and divided.
From Flight 93 to the Columbia tragedy today, every large-scale news item has ripped the divide into a deeper chasm.
It started with people wanting to blame America itself for September 11. They blamed the arrogance of American people, the way we walk with our heads held too high or our wallets packed too full.
Everything became a conspiracy, everyone had a hidden agenda. Lies are told, rumors are started and what starts as insidious thoughts become grand-scale inquiries.
We barely have time to sit back and wipe our tears or sink into momentary shock before the first arrows are slung.
Today I hear the call of the wild-eyed. The blame, the sheer joy expressed at the fate of innocents, the name calling and twisted stabs to the heart.
I hear the mantra of isolationism, of how we have no right to be so heartbroken over seven people when there are starving children in other parts of the world. I hear the cries of the wretched, placing blame where it doesn't belong, using a sad moment in time as an excuse to throw their hatred at you.
They speak these things with bitter hearts and dark souls. They have crawled out of the darkness after every disaster, every plane crash, every heartbreaking moment in history.
In the past 16 months, their voices have become louder and their stories have become larger and more incredible. They have gathered in every corner of the world; in Canada and France, in Australia and Arab nations and here in America.
They take every public moment of despair as their own and twist it and turn it until it is unrecognizable. They do not wipe your tears - they laugh at them. They do not offer you comfort - they offer you cold hands that want to choke the compassion from you.
We stand divided at such a time when we need to be united. We look at each other from across the canyon that separates us and we know there is no way to build a bridge. That chance is long gone, taken from us when we were at our darkest, when we needed to build on hope and strength from each other and only found mistrust and cold stares.
And now here we are, at another crossroads when we should come together and give each other hope for the future and condolences for today.
Instead, we find hateful words and seething anger. We find mockery and trivialization and for the life of me I cannot understand how people can be this way, how people cannot accept a terribly sad moment for what it is and put their pettiness and ill will aside to recognize that.
We are politicized at every angle. We are torn apart by fear. We are a nation divided and not even tragedy, which was once that great equalizer, can bring us back together.
ed. note: as with all things, this works both ways. One particular group does not hold the patent on idiocy and divisiveness.