How Do We Come Together?

In our current society, there are a number of factors that have divided us into different camps. How do we reverse that and come together?

There are many reasons why we look at our fellow human beings with increased distrust.

Politicians use fear and distrust of others to motive their constituents. When news outlets promote conflict, they are rewarded with increased viewership, more clicks, or a higher circulation. As more families fall into or toward poverty, they fight desperately for livelihoods.

And yet, most significant advancements have been made when we work together as a society. Advancing life spans, reduction of widespread disease, better understanding of the world around us — these things are all made possible through cooperation.

It’s not realistic to expect that everyone will agree on all, or even most, issues. But how can we disagree, yet still make progress?

Can we somehow look at our economic, political, religious rivals and somehow see our similarities rather than our differences? How do we come together after being driven so far apart? Particularly when physically coming together is limited due to the global pandemic?

Related questions: Why are we so antagonistic? How can we encourage debate? How do you know who to trust? Is our attention fractured? Division or unity?

8 thoughts on “How Do We Come Together?”

  1. My answer is not particularly novel — we will have to be patient and generous, behave respectfully toward one another, and rededicate ourselves to the effort after the inevitable setbacks.

    I don’t know if it is possible. It certainly doesn’t seem very likely.

    Perhaps what we need is some sort of common unifying event. Briefly, it appeared that the pandemic might be it, back in mid-March when the lock-down was first announced. The initial feeling was one of common purpose. In those early days, there was a sense that we all hoped that everyone would be safe, and tales of people going shopping for their elderly neighbors or random acts of appreciation for essential workers were everywhere.

    But it wasn’t long before everything about the pandemic became contentious: what is its origin? How deadly is it? What is the best treatment for people who contract it? Are masks helpful or harmful?

    Now it seems as though it is hopelessly politicized, so we’re back to being divided.

    Perhaps some sort of scientific advance would do it. When we landed on the moon, there was a unification throughout society. The picture of the earth from the moon was instantly iconic and a strong visual metaphor for our shared existence.

    But I’m struggling of think of something that would be similarly engaging today. A breakthrough in physics seems too abstract or removed from everyday life. Maybe coming up with an effective treatment for cancer? If we could save lives, reduce suffering, and show the effectiveness of medical science, that might bring us together as a society.

    But barring a long shot like that, the answer isn’t very satisfying: hard work. For a long time.

    1. Lee, I don’t know if we wrote our responses at the same time, but it’s certainly funny how similar our responses are.

    2. One way to come together is through music. In particular I think of the world music of “Playing for Change”, where street musicians from all over the world simultaneously perform the same song. I’m sure you can find it on You Tube or Facebook.

  2. I believe a unifying event or struggle is what’s needed to bring us together — well, at least more of us than are together right now.

    One could have hoped the pandemic would have been that thing. But we have a divisive president who shows no leadership on COVID-19. Instead, he wants to act like we are winning the war against a virus when, I believe, the current surge is moving at an even more dangerous trajectory than when the pandemic first started taking hold of the country. And, unfortunately, he’s got a number of fringe sectors of our population gripping ahold of the Republican Party, drowning out its more moderate wing.

    What will be that unifying event or struggle? If the pandemic gets worse, and Biden wins the presidency, it’s still possible for that to unify a greater fraction of the country than is together right now. Could it be more dramatic weather events, forest fires, and major crop failures as a result of climate change? Could it be an even worse economy leading to rallying around greater infrastructure spending, generating more jobs in communities? I have no clue.

    But I hope that event comes relatively soon. And, I hope it happens when national, state, and local leadership lines up with enough of the population to drowned out the likes of Q’Anon, white supremacists, as well as staunch individualists and isolationists.

  3. I agree that we need a unifying purpose to bring more of us together under one umbrella. Biden seems to have some good, long-term ideas about infrastructure that might be promising as they would be bringing back jobs and hence build the economy. Building Back Better as we weather and come through this pandemic is a good phrase, and in its implementation could be a way to help bind each other’s wounds and forge a community that wants to work together.

    I, too, think it will take a long time and hard work to cement unity again. I don’t think that a single event will do it. We forget too easily for that. And, as I now know I never imagined how very sick some people’s ideas about America are, I think that the fringe right may never have been nor never will be united with the majority. Hillary was correct when she spoke of a basket full of deplorables.

    I, too, thought that the pandemic itself would be such a catalyst but it seems as if its politicization has broken our unity farther apart. If things get a lot worse, especially in red states, we may still see this be influential in unity if and when we have a President who will seek unity.

    Let’s just hope and pray and unity can once again be achieved in our lifetime.

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