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Divide and Conquer

 

Edited 1/6/2014

We sure live in an angry world, filled with hate and malice.  In my native state the bitter rivalry between the top two college athletics programs has been the impetus for my developing an allegorical metaphor.  I will use that metaphor to frame a darker side of humanity.  Like the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s, hate and feud has become so innate and inbred in sports and other contextual subcultures, that we scarcely even remember why we started hating our enemy in first place.  It’s just who we are (or who they are) and what we do.  After all, they are the McCoy’s!  In the arena sports, fans vandalize or desecrate the objects of their opponent’s affection, annihilate effigies or anything held sacred by the opposing “side”. Brawls break out at sporting events between fans, parents, and officials.  In Brazil there was even the beheading of a soccer referee.
It is disturbing.  It is a culture where slander and smear or “talking trash” is esteemed, and the extent to which a person can destroy the other “side” is the measure of that person’s veracity.  Then we rationalize it with, “everyone does it”,  “they are messed up or wrong”, thats just sports and nobody takes it that serious, it’s funny”.  We are a hate infested culture.  Some of these people are rather impressed by themselves.  They strut about figuratively (sometimes literally) beating on their chests and a few fools revere them.  I must emphasize that I am an avid sports fan and understand the highly charged emotional state a person can get worked into.  This is not an indictment of all sport fans.  We are fallible, but we do have the power of reason.  Many of us do use reason, and temper our responses to highly charged situations.
But this article isn’t just about rational thinking humans.  Hence, the metaphor I referred to:

Perhaps like me, you too have seen reports of primates at zoo exhibits that have engaged in a similar and rather primitive behavior such as I have just described.  In this example a chimpanzee is flinging bodily excrement at bystanders.

The behavior of “haters” and “trash talkers” is akin to that of a chimp inside the primate enclosure at the zoo, throwing their bodily excrement at the observant zoo-goers. These primates really think they are something, laughing, screeching and beating on their chest in an apparent display of their supposed superiority. They really appear to be impressed with themselves. No doubt, within their subculture they are very impressive because that’s how it works at their level. Meanwhile, human beings watch the primitive, primate behavior in utter amazement, amusement and perhaps contempt. There are two completely different perspectives that are illustrated here.  There are those of the onlookers, which are rational and objective, then there are abhorrent, hateful and emotionally driven primates.  Naturally, we can agree with Brazilian Novelist, Paulo Coelho that,

“It’s more intelligent to be constructive.”

I shift now to another subculture/group similar to the fanatic sport fans, which is the object of my attention here.  These are they who figuratively roam in this primitive “enclosure” in the political partisan culture. Contemplating that sphere of thought, conjures up the images I have illustrated with the preceding metaphor.

The attitudes and behavior of partisan, political zealots have turned what should be a civil realm where rational thought rules, into a symbolic zoo enclosure where verbal insults and thoughtless, vile rants are flung about like excrement, often with glee.  Self-examination are out the window and critical thought for the good of the whole take a deferential seat at the back of that bus.  With partisans, it is all tolerable if it is for the good of the party.  It may be good for the political party, but it isn’t always going to be good for the country.  The late Carroll O’Connor well said,

“Nations have come under the control of haters and fools.”

I don’t think he is merely saying that haters have been known to become the majority.  I interpret his meaning to be,  It is possible to subjugate a nation through hate, and those that permit it by espousing hate and blind loyalty are fools.  Hate divides a people.  Alliances struck in the realm of hate are fragile –loosely bound by the impotent glue of fleeting self-interest and an ever-shifting vacillation of values, trumped by emotion.  Talk about vacillation.  Let’s not forget that the Republican Party is “the party of Lincoln”, the President who helped stop slavery in the United States and the Democrat party was the preferred party of rank and file members of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). Neither of those party attributes are considered contemporary.  Self-interest and political expediency, devoid of principled intrinsic values, are a model of unpredictability, unreliability and ephemerality.  We often refer to this as political expediency.

As for me, I will not be joining these primitives in their figurative enclosure.  Party affiliation is not in and of itself a bad thing.  I am affiliated with a political party as most Americans are, but my loyalties are first to the common good in the long term.  In fact, we can and should listen to the partisan (among others), to test our ideas and beliefs.  If they cannot stand that test, they are dross.  We already in essence have bought cups that don’t hold water.  Businessman Rob Manuel , recognizes this saying,

“There’s a certain logic to avoiding the haters, but as a strategy, it’s utterly flawed. When you turn off the feedback, you lose the benefits as well as the drawbacks. It’s like having a sore finger and cutting off your arm.”

“The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster is used as a case study of whistleblowing and organizational behavior including groupthink.” Wikipedia.com

So, rigorous testing is essential, especially when much is at stake.  That said, there is a difference between rigorous testing against rational opposition versus inflammatory, diatribes of venomous hate and deceptive rhetoric. Blind party loyalty leads to group-think.  Groupthink, like poisoned Kool-Aid, kills organizations and societies, and our nation is not immune. Until we recognize the damage that the rhetoric of political partisanship, along with blind loyalty has done by dividing us, we will continue to go adrift as a nation.  Put the Kool-Aid down put your arms in the air and back away from the ballot box!  That “put the party first” mentality is, and ever will be a major contributor to our undoing.  To expand on the issue of hate being divisive –We have been divided on race, income/class war (remember the 1%?), gender, nationality, religion and social issues, to name a few.  Party loyalty focuses on these divisions.  Rational thought turns our mind to solving problems and to candidates who are in possession of the ideas that coincide with our principles and ideals irrespective of party.  Musician Eden Ahbez said something so profound,

 

“Some white people hate black people, and some white people love black people, some black people hate white people, and some black people love white people. So you see it’s not an issue of black and white, it’s an issue of Lovers and Haters.”

This is a profound statement.  It turns the whole socio-political spectrum on its ear.  It would be a major paradigm shift if we as a nation embraced that “principle”.  It really is a truism when someone coined the phrase, “principle before party”.
Our nation’s future hangs in the balance because our enemies, foreign and domestic have seen a way to “divide and conquer”.  We are a nation divided in many different ways.  Through the instrumentality of blind, party loyalty, we are divided “seven ways to Sunday”.  At some point we must step back from our political positions and re-evaluate our position on issues from a new paradigm.  Have we challenged our own thinking or are we just too busy drinking the Kool-Aid and flinging our excrement, like bullets, at the Hatfield’s?  Let us shake the chains of intellectual bondage and re-think everything.  Consider that which we have not considered.  Try that which we have not tried.  We must collectively and individually ask ourselves first, what are the ideals and core principles the define us?  Do they line up with historical facts?  Time is of the essence.  We must reevaluate everything or we will implode and die as a nation, because America, you are too young to die.

“Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man’s sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true.”

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.,

Christmas sermon delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, 1957

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“Hate misleads, fear distorts and love blinds.”

TIM LEBBON, Face

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“I think that hate is a thing, a feeling, that can only exist where there is no understanding.”

TENNESSEE WILLIAMS, Forward to Sweet Bird of Youth

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“Hatred makes us all ugly.”

LAURELL K. HAMILTON, Burnt Offerings

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“The worst enemy is one whose doctrines are founded in hate and are thus beyond debate.”

TOBSHA LEARNER, The Witch of Cologne

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“Hatred is the atmosphere of hell.”

MARTIN FARQUHAR TUPPER, Proverbial Philosophy

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“My hands tend to be full enough dealing with people who hate me for who I am. Concentrate too hard on the millions of people who hate you for what you are and you’re likely to turn into one of those unkempt, sloppy dressers who sag beneath the weight of the two hundred political buttons they wear pinned to their coats and knapsacks.

DAVID SEDARIS, Naked

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