Why Are We So Divided?

No matter which metric you use, it seems like there is a yawning gap between people. We are more divided than ever. What is fueling this growing difference?

Short of an escalation into violence, it’s difficult to imagine a more divided population than exists in the United States and the world.

Income inequality means more families are struggling to make ends meet. At the same time, wealth is being concentrated in fewer and fewer hands.

There are more people leaving organized religion with each passing year. Those that remain feel persecuted.

Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss the related question: ‘What beliefs do you have that might be wrong?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘What makes a place feel like home?’

But by far, the most intense division is political. Individuals in different political parties can’t even seem to have a civil conversation. Each side believes the other one is destroying the country. As a result, we are self-selecting into opposing neighborhoods, cities, and states. Nuance, complexity, and compromise are forgotten or ignored.

How did we get here? What is the cause of this division? Is it a media that is chasing advertising money? Or political leaders looking to consolidate power and influence? Are the wealthy looking to collect even more money? Are the poor lazy and shiftless? Alternately, are social media outlets — a new technology — spreading misinformation in the interest of attracting viewers?

In your opinion, who is to blame for our current state of disunity? And more importantly, perhaps, how can we reverse that trend and see our commonalities rather than our differences? Why are we so divided?

Related questions: What do we have in common? How can we encourage meaningful conversation? Why do we hate? How do we know we are right?

2 thoughts on “Why Are We So Divided?”

  1. The article “After Babel” in the May 2022 issue of The Atlantic put it succinctly:

    “It’s been clear for quite a while now that red America and blue America are becoming like two different countries claiming the same territory, with two different versions of the Constitution, economics, and history.”

    I side with our Constitution being a living document that must adapt to the current times rather than be tied to a moment in history in 1787. I side with an economics that works for all people being secure in quality, basic necessities. I side with a history that learns from its past rather than trying to hide it.

    I find it sad that a different side even exists.

  2. I’m currently reading Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Yes, we’re divided now, but it was much worse during Lincoln’s time. I don’t want to make light of our current polarization but we haven’t seen any states secede from the union yet.

    Our country has come a long way since the Civil War, and hopefully, has learned from past mistakes. The January 6th riot at the Capitol shows how far we have yet to go!

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