America has never been more divided.
This is the line and narrative many in your media want to spin today. It has also gotten into your culture via your politics on both sides. How many Conservative think there is no common ground with liberals and how many liberals feel the exact same about Conservatives?
With the constant battles on social media between those who speak loudest and share the harshest insults, along with 24/7 media that has either forgotten or just flat out ignores its role in society, it is easy to believe that narrative. But is actually true? Are you more divided today than during your civil war for example? I honestly don’t believe there is a way to either factually prove or disprove this narrative.
Today I would ask you to come on a journey with me and see how your fellow Americans dealt with division. I would ask you to close your eyes and imagine the following scenario.
A Journey Starts
You are now living in one of the thirteen colonies of America and the year is 1776. You are a farmer and you are living on the same land you have always known. You have known the same people your whole life, and you never went more than a couple of miles from your home.
Then July 2nd happens and America declares independence from Britain. You go to the local town square to hear the Declaration of Independence for the first time and you are inspired. You know everything you heard is true, but seeing a generation put those self-evident truths into writing moves you.
In fact you are so moved that you are going to make the craziest decision in your life. You are going to enlist for the Continental Army.
Imagine all the feelings and emotions:
- HOPE of a brighter tomorrow
- EXCITEMENT of being part of something bigger than yourself and the rewards of serving.
But there is also FEAR:
- Fear of the unknown,
- Fear of being so far from your home,
- Fear of not knowing whom you would be serving with,
- Maybe the biggest fear of all – death.
But you ignore all of those fears and join your Regiment. You are waiting for your first battle and if you are a guy probably thinking macho thoughts, like those redcoats won’t know what hit them, and that the “war” will be over before it even starts.
The truth is nothing like that. The cold hard truth is you are serving in an Army that is vastly unprepared. The vast majority of men either have no military training or lack the basic skills, you are not properly armed, and you don’t even have the basic clothing needed for battle as some of you don’t have shoes or warm blankets for bedding.
The other cold hard fact is you are going against the super-power of the day – the English, the Hessions, and the Redcoats. They are well trained, have men with plenty of war experience, have superior weapons for all and have the right provisions to survive.
Your First Battle
You ignore all these facts and then you engage in your first battle. It does not go well. You engage, you give it your best shot, but they overpower you and eventually the order to retreat comes. You’re devastated but you retreat and regroup to discover your numbers have reduced. Some of those you served with, some who you got close to, have fallen and paid the ultimate price for this war.
This war has just gotten real. But as you regroup, you think we will get them next time…
The next battle comes along quickly and it goes similar to the first, you get over-powered and eventually you have retreat. This trend continues.
Imagine how you would feel right now. The excitement and hope has long gone. Your body aches from head to toe with every muscle tense, tired or just sore and feet are killing you. The only emotions you have left are fear and sadness for all those you have lost. You start to wonder are you ever going to see your home again, hug and kiss your family again, and wonder if you made a mistake signing up.
A Brutal Winter
As the days and weeks pass, the worst is yet to come. It is now getting closer to winter, the days are shorter, they are colder and when it rains it feels like you are being hit by blocks of cold harsh ice.
But you persist because you believe in what you are fighting for. You are fighting for something bigger than yourself, you are fighting for those self-evident truths, and you hope that even if you perish, future generations will have a brighter tomorrow.
Fast forward a couple of months, and with the sacrifice of many, the assistance of the French and the leadership of General George Washington you have defeated the Hessions.
You scream at the top of your voice FREEDOM!!! WE DID IT!!! WE ARE FREE!!!
You fall to your knees with pure exhaustion and start to re-count everything you have been thru. You smile knowing you will soon be back home safely with your family and back working the farm.
John Adams Stat
While we have lots of information from your founding era, it is hard to find proven exact statistics. For the purpose of this journey, let us use the John Adams number. At the time of your founding, roughly 33% of your people wanted independence, 33% wanted to stay with Britain, and 33% did not have a side.
Now go back to imagining everything you went thru during your founding war, how would you react when you got home? How would you feel making all those sacrifices, seeing your new friends die, survive that brutal winter only to come and look someone in the eye who was actively rooting to stay part of Britain or maybe even worse those who did not have an opinion?
How would you have felt knowing that they will benefit from your sacrifice, while they did nothing?
I honestly don’t know how I would react. It is very easy to understand the frustration and the temptation to lash out. Anger is an emotion to feel and share.
We will never know how peace reigned after your revolution, but I believe peace reigned after your revolution because America has a couple of principles that make you exceptional and different from the rest of the world.
Firstly the American Revolution was not about sides, people or even winning. It was a revolution that was about principles; it was about self-evident truths, it was about changing the relationship between both man and his fellow man, but also man and government. Simply put the revolution was about an IDEA.
Secondly the path America followed was the exact opposite of the rest of the world. While other countries promote brotherhood, fraternity, class systems and identity politics – America was built on the exact opposite. America was built on the principle of E Pluribus Unum (Out of many ONE).